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This extremely rare and hardly known film (as far as I know, it was never
released outside of Italy) is an interesting mix of a classic crime story
and a typical giallo. In the first half of the film, there is only one
murder to be solved, but as soon as the police comes closer to the truth,
people are killed in usual giallo style, during thrilling and atmospheric
intense scenes. This mixture may seem odd (one may ask why the film wasn't
made in giallo style right from the beginning), but it works quite well and
keeps the tension up until the end. The murder scenes are nasty, and the
identity of the killer really a big surprise. The movie has also its tragic
moments, but never becomes exaggeratedly melodramatic.
One of those films that deserve a far broader release, interesting not only for giallo fans.
I don't know how many times I missed out on this one on late-night
Italian TV, believing it to be a low-brow poliziottesco; having
recently enjoyed Caiano's WEAPONS OF DEATH (1977) and, noticing it was
scheduled for yet another passage this week, I decided to check it out
(even if I knew that particular channel would suffer from bad
As it turned out, the film contains strong elements of the giallo and, in fact, most resembles a similar hybrid I watched a couple of weeks ago Massimo Dallamano's WHAT HAVE THEY DONE TO YOUR DAUGHTERS? (1974)! The plot again involves the uncovering of a teenage prostitution ring (also treated in Romolo Guerrieri's CITY UNDER SIEGE ) though, in this case, it emerges as a red herring (a false trail picked up by the police in its investigation into the disappearance of the 15 year-old daughter of eminent surgeon Gabriele Ferzetti).
The above-average cast also includes Antonio Sabato (better than expected as the cop assigned to the case), Enrico Maria Salerno as his superior, Luciana Paluzzi as a social worker (paralleling the feminist angle seen in the Dallamano film), Ettore Manni as a peeper, Marino Mase' as the racketeer leading an outwardly respectable life, etc. Similar to WHAT HAVE THEY DONE TO YOUR DAUGHTERS?, the police procedural is quite thorough and takes center-stage; however, a couple of the murders are pretty graphic (one of them was basically replicated outright into Alberto Negrin's RINGS OF FEAR  another giallo which recently received a first-time viewing from me). Actually, the film feels a bit too voyeuristic in its intent (with plenty of gratuitous female nudity) though making up for this by not providing any easy answers with its unexpected revelation at the finale
The Giallo was one of the more popular genres in Italy during the early
seventies, and as the decade moved on (and Dirty Harry was released),
the Polizi flick pushed the Giallo out a little. Mario Caiano's Calling
All Police cars is a sort of mixture of the two; for the first half of
the film, it plays out like a Polizi flick and then as we move into the
final third, the film transforms into a Giallo. Rather than feel like
two movies stuck together, however, the film actually does feel like a
complete whole and the two blend well with each other. The plot takes
obvious influence from Massimo Dallamano's unofficial 'Schoolgirls in
Peril' trilogy and puts its focus on corruption inside a school. The
film begins by focusing on Fiorella Icardi, the daughter of a rich
surgeon. She lies to her parents about where she's going and promptly
goes missing. Due to her father's standing in the community, the police
mount a big search for the girl; who promptly turns up in the river
with a bullet in her brain. Commissioner Fernando Solmi investigates
and he is lead to a schoolgirl prostitution ring.
The first two thirds of the film are rather short on action and put more focus on building up the situation and characters as well as showing us some police procedure. It's all very well done and that is thanks mostly to director MMario Caiano who gives the film a great style that suits the film perfectly, as well as pulling great performances from his cast, which includes Antonio Sabato in the lead role. Despite taking obvious influence from Massimo Dallamano's films, this one is not nearly as sleazy and that is down to the fact that we focus more on the police investigation and characters than the actual schoolgirls. This may not please some movie fans; but for me, Calling All Police Cars is a better film for it as the director keeps the focus on things integral to the plot. The film really takes off in the final third when many Giallo themes start being incorporated and we are treated to three murder scenes; the final one of which is particularly bloodthirsty and a scene that the great Dario Argento would be proud of! The mystery itself comes to a satisfying, if not particularly inventive, conclusion at the close and overall; I would not hesitate to recommend this film to fans of Italian thrillers.
This one didn't quite catch fire for me and I had never heard of the
director. It turns out that Mario Caiano has made almost 50 movies
though not many of note. The most interesting sounding one is a giallo,
L'Occhio Nel Labirinto, which I shall seek out although the film in
question here being some mix of crime and giallo is less that awe
It begins well enough but is never really engaging with uninteresting characters and a missing girl we barely know. After a protracted police procedural section the picture becomes more lurid and there is plenty of young flesh but still we remain uninvolved because of lack of charisma, mundane dialogue and lack of pace or direction.
A teenage girl from a wealthy family mysteriously disappears. After her
body is found at the bottom of a lake the police begin an intense
investigation that leads to a teenage prostitution ring and several
more bloody murders, but the actual killer may be someone much closer
to the home.
This was one of the Italian films from the 1970's that were inspired by Massimo Dallamano's "schoolgirl gialli" where dissipated, middle-class schoolgirls become involved in drug orgies, prostitution, back-alley abortions, and other sordid goings on, and eventually meet a sticky end. These films were at once sleazy and hypocritcally moralistic. They range from the Dallamano's relatively classy "What Have You Done to Solange?" (loosely based on an Edgar Wallace novel)to Alberto Negrin's irredeemably trashy "Trauma" (with its infamous death-by-dildo scene). This movie most resembles Dallamano's second film "What Have They Done to Your Daughters?" in that it tries to mitigate the sleaze a little by putting straight-arrow cops at the moral center and focusing on police procedure rather than the sexual intrigue. In a way though, this makes the movie even more objectionable. The most disturbing thing about it isn't really the tender age of the victims (the actresses, at least, all look like they'd long since blown out the candles on their 18th birthday cakes), but the way their characters are almost literally reduced to pieces of meat: It really doesn't matter whether they are alive, lying unconscious on abortionist's table, or lying dead on a slab--it's all pretty much just an excuse to get them nice and naked.
Like "Daughters?" this film tries to include a feminist angle by including former Bond girl Luciana Paluzzi as one of the investigating detectives, but they really manage to waste her. Still, it's not all bad. The director Mario "Nightmare Castle" Caiano was certainly visually talented and the film is stylish and nowhere near as sleazy as by all rights it should be. And if you think about it, aside from the full-frontal nudity, these films anticipated (if probably not inspired) a lot of more recent American television like the "who-killed-Laura-Palmer?" intrigue of David Lynch's "Twin Peaks" or the morbid forensic intrigue of the "CSI" series. Not great, but worth a look.
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