A serial killer frightens Paris by phoning young ladies at night, telling them insults about their lives. Minos, as he calls himself, wants to prevent the world from free women and so he targets them. Commissaire Letellier is given the investigation and has a hard time with the maniac. Written by
Frederic Villemin <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"Peur Sur La Ville" (aka. "Fear Over The City"/"The Night Caller") of 1975 is a great and excellently made French Thriller with the great Jean-Paul Belmondo in the lead. While this film was clearly inspired by American cult flicks, such as "Dirty Harry", "Bullit" or the "French Connection", and furthermore took its influence in early 70s Italian Gialli and Poliziotteschi, it remains very French and quite original. The story may not be the most original ever, but the way it is executed, the brilliant photography and director Henry Verneuil's great sense for stylistic tricks give this an immense originality. Commisaire Jean Lettelier played by Belmondo is the French equivalent to Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry and the tough coppers of Italian cinema played by actors like Maurizio Merli and Henry Silva. While the cop played by Bebel is an unorthodox tough guy like his American and Italian counterparts, he is also a typically French macho, talkative, chain-smoking and always wearing elegant clothes. This is a a French/Italian co-production, and while its characters and mood are very French, it uses many elements of contemporary Italian genre-cinema.
Comissaire Jean Lettelier (Belmondo) is a tough Paris cop, who is in desperate search for a gangster named Marnucci, who has once shot a civilian while escaping from Letellier after a bank robbery. But Lettelier has little time to focus on the gangster he is after. A psychopathic killer who calls himself Minos terrorizes the French capital, murdering women whom he considers morally reprehensible... The film delivers the popular 'tough cop vs. murderous psycho' formula in an excellent and visually stunning manner. Both the action- and the suspense-sequences are photographed brilliantly, in supreme camera angles and using great visual gimmicks (I won't spoil anything by giving examples). The performances are great. I'm a Belmondo-fan in general, and the role of the the rough-and-ready copper fits Bebel like a glove. Charles Denner makes a very good sidekick as Inspector Moissac, and the rest of the performances are also very good, especially Adalberto Maria Merli. With 120 minutes, the film is quite long for a cop-thriller, but it never seems long. Since the film is brilliantly shot, full of action and maintains the suspense from the beginning to the end, these two hours go by very quickly. Apart from great suspense and action, a brilliant visual style, and a great leading performance and supporting cast, the film profits from an ingenious score. All things considered "Peur Sur La Ville" is a tantalizing and great Thriller that no fan of 70s cinema should miss. Highly recommended!
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