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Skip through the special features on the DVD of Peter Yates Bullitt (1968)
and you'll find an interesting featurette entitled Steve McQueen's
Commitment to Reality; a promo made at the time of the film's production.
this quaint little curio unravels, we're told that McQueen had driven the
iconic Ford Mustang for real, during the seminal car chases. The viewer is
given the impression that the film's star is really something special for
doing so. FACT: Next to French superstar Jean-Paul Belmondo's stunt work
Peur Sur La Ville, McQueen was merely dipping his little toe in a very
pool! Reality indeed!
The action sequences in Peur Sur La Ville are nothing short of jaw dropping, even by the standards of movies today. One chase sequence in particular has Belmondo pursuing a suspect up an interior stairwell, out through a window, across a series of rooftops whilst hanging onto various fascias and bits of guttering. Smashing through a skylight, he falls into a department store. Once again on street level, a car-chase ensues, climaxing with Belmondo running atop a moving train! Verneuil lets his audience know that it's his leading man putting his neck on the line. Belmondo is clearly seen, every step of the way. This is undoubtedly one of the best examples of its kind ever committed to celluloid.
Peur Sur La Ville would probably never have been conceived if it hadn't been for the aforementioned Bullitt or for that matter, William Friedkin's The French Connection (1971).For years, European critics sneered at American remakes/reworkings of classic foreign language films and held theirs heads high with the view that continental cinema was not only innovative, but actually set the trends for the Yanks to replicate. However, Bullitt, French Connection and Don Siegel's Dirty Harry (1971) set the record straight once and for all; the anti-hero cop was as American as the hamburger. These groundbreaking films introduced audiences to unorthodox cops that had a case to break, by any means necessary. Sometimes these cops would act as ruthless as the criminals they were fighting to keep off the streets. All three films upped the ante in terms of action and break-neck editing.
By the mid seventies, Italian directors such as Enzo G. Castellari (High Crime), Franco Martinelli (Violent Rome/Roma Violenta) Fernando De Leo (Calibre 9/Milano Calibre) and Umberto Lenzi (The Tough Ones/Italia a Mano Armata) were all dabbling with this new found genre. Whereas their American counterparts had cast the likes of Clint Eastwood, Charles Bronson and Gene Hackman, the Italians were making stars out of Franco Nero, Tomas Milian, Maurizio Merli and Fabio Testi. Although immensely enjoyable almost all of these Italian poliziers never rose above formulaic. However, Verneuil, a Turkish film-maker working in France managed to pull off a real coup with Peur Sur La Ville. By making his film a hybrid of both polizier and giallo, it works on both levels and gives it the substance lacking from the Italian pictures.
A diabolical killer calling himself Minos, is on the loose in Paris. Having lived through the `free love' of the sixties and not getting any, he decides that he will `act as an arm of justice that will condemn without pity and execute all those who wallow in the sexual mud that is drowning us.' After establishing his motive, he sets about murdering promiscuous females. Hot on his heels is police Inspector Latelier (Belmondo). Minos taunts Latelier by sending a piece of his picture after each murder, in the view that the photograph will be complete when his work is done.
As Paris' most unorthodox detective, Latelier gets sadistic pleasure from seeing his suspects squirming. During one of the Sub-plots, Latelier refuses to call a critically wounded drug dealer an ambulance until he gets the information he is after, which echoes Eastwood's Callaghan in Dirty Harry.
As much as Verneuil was influenced by the like of Siegel and Freidkin, Peur sur La Ville owes a huge debt to the films of Mario Bava. The opening scene in which Minos taunts a victim on the phone, is reminiscent of The Telephone episode of Bava's anthology Black Sabbath (1963).Later during the aforementioned chase sequence, after crashing through the skylight, Latelier and Minos face off amongst the mannequins of a poorly lit store room; a nod to the Italian maestro's Hatchet for the Honeymoon (1969).
Peur Sur La Ville features a wonderful music score by none other than Ennio Morricone. The score is integral to some of the set pieces as one would expect. During the tense opening, Morricone orchestrates only a single drumbeat. This is extremely unnerving, as we the audience, know that Minos is about to knock at the door!
Canal + Video's DVD is presented anamorphically, in its original widescreen ratio of 1:66:1. This is as good a transfer as one could expect from a film of this age. Print damage is minimal but the colours seem a little washed-out. The sound is presented in two-channel mono, but is well balanced and serves Morricone's score well. The viewer has the choice of watching the film either in the original French language or in a dubbed English version. There are no subtitles available. Extra features are limited to the original theatrical trailer (in French), an interview with Verneuil (again in French) and a poster gallery.
Peur Sur La Ville is one of the lost landmarks of action cinema but is also so much more. If you have a thing for poliziers or giallos, this ones for you!
This movie looks old and is sometimes a bit zany, but even if it can't
have the same impact than 30 yrs ago, it is still worthy of a viewing.
It's fast-paced psychopathic killer movie of the kind that later became
so popular till nowadays. The dialog co-signed by Francis veber (La
chèvre, le dîner de cons, les fugitifs, etc ...) that is the actual
record-man for the number of movie that have been remade by Hollywood,
are great and funny. As for the music made by Ennio Morricone, it works
great with the movie (for instance the sequence in which Minos (the
killer) is tracked up to the Galeries Lafayette's attic by the
Comissaire Letellier (J.P. Belmondo) is thrilling partly because of the
music and the ambiance). Notice the bit of humor when we can hear as
Belmondo chase the killer in the Galeries Lafayette, the woman's voice
of the advertising that says in French "there is always something
happening in the Galeries Lafayette". As I said, it is a fast-paced
movie, it also has a lot of action and Belmondo uses it to show his
athletic skills, not using a stuntman to do the job. Belmondo is great
as the bad-ass cop with a cynical sense of humor.
I recommend you to check this movie out while keeping in mind that it looks old and there are some awkward moments due to its date of release (guns sounds like firecrackers).
This French movie by crime and action movie director Henri Verneuil presents Jean-Paul Belmondo at his best! He plays a Clint-Eastwood-like hard boiled detective in Paris, chasing a mentally disturbed serial killer who's already killed several women. Belmondo is acting in his usual style, with less words than action and some witty remarks for every scene. Next to some scary murders and a disturbing one-eyed killer, the highlight of this movie is a 15-minute chase which starts on a house's roof and is continued by bike, cars and a thrilling subway stunt sequence, all filmed as good as well-known chase scenes like "Bullitt", "French Connection" or "Speed". If you like dark serial killer action, hard-boiled guys and breath-taking action sequences, watch this cool 1975 movie!
Jean Paul Belmondo and his associate, Charles Denner, play tough cops
after two killers in "Fear Over the City." Although not listed in the
credits, the city of Paris plays a major supporting role. One killer,
Marcucci, is a bank robber Belmondo's character is after for killing a
fellow cop during an auto chase. At one point later in the picture,
Belmondo is on the roof of a Paris Metro car above ground as it goes
though Paris, with the cop killer inside the train. The viewer gets a
chance to see the city sights as the train zips along.
The second killer, who uses the name "Minos," wants to rid the world of sexual immorality by targeting women he finds objectionable. Belmondo gets into a gunfight with Minos while on the sloping roof of a store, apparently the Galleries Lafayette. Director Verneuil does a great job of adding thrills as Belmondo slips on the sloping roof several times, almost falling off, all the while shooting it out with Minos. The pursuit of Minos after the roof fight leads to a chase through Paris, past the Eiffel Tower and through downtown streets, Belmondo's police car after Minos, on a motorcycle.
In this movie Belmondo gets a chance to play a real tough cop, one who shoots back at a suspect, hitting him, and then ignores him as he asks for an ambulance. Instead, Belmondo takes a break, reading a magazine in the wounded man's apartment until the guy talks. There is that scene in the basement of a bar, where 38 illegal aliens from Mali rent space from the bar owner. 1975 and this movie shows illegals forced to live in double or triple bunk beds in a storage basement. Belmondo's bell bottom pants have dated, but not that basement scene nor the professionalism the cast and crew bring to this movie.
This movie was a replacement in France. It marks the entry of a new criminal type(Minos) in a scenery unprecedented(the cold tower).The introduction is very efficient,a woman alone in her apartment,harass by the voice of Minos. Commissaire Letellier will be change his méthods for catch Minos. The opposition between the old-fashion criminal(Marcucci) and the modern(minos) is the symbol of a new area. The stunts are incredible(belmondo=keaton and Jackie Chan)specially the chase on the subway.The Veber's dialogues are very punchy. 8/10
"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
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!
"Peur sur la ville" is one of the best films for both Jean-Paul
Belmondo and director Henri Verneuil. At the time (1974-75) Belmondo is
(with Alain Delon) the biggest French movie star -he's a versatile
actor, but he is specialized in action movies where he can do his own
stunts... His artistic and physical exploits allow him to be the Number
1 at the French box office between 1970 and 1987.
Henri Verneuil is too a versatile artist -in his long career he directs film of every genre, most of them are box office hits. He works with the Top French film stars (Fernandel, Belmondo, Delon, Ventura, Gabin, ...).
When the two men meet for this collaboration they are not novice artists and know exactly what they want. A solid thriller ("un polar") in the best French tradition with drama, fear and action. That's what they get and pack cinemas in many countries.
Paris is frightened by a psychopath, whose name is Minos. This assassin punishes people who are (in his opinion) sinners... Commissaire Letellier is an athletic cop who reaches to catch him, in putting his life in danger many times.
What else can I say? The merit of this movie is the simplicity. Because scenes are not exaggerated with special effects, they are not too violent as well. Efficacy of the movie depends on actors and their physical involvement.
Belmondo, who is a mask of the French cinema, is really great. He can be funny and dramatical -in this film he's a charming tough character. He has a lighter approach than Clint Eastood's "Dirty Harry" or than any of Charles Bronson executioners.
What we have here is a crime thriller that includes most of the clichés
of the genre, but does it in such a way that it feels original due to
the execution. Henri Verneuil's film is really not what I was expecting
it to be at all; it's actually a lot more than just a film about cops
hunting a vicious psychopath and while not everything about the film
works, what does work works brilliantly and this is certainly among the
best European crime thrillers of the 1970's. The film is a French and
Italian co-production, and while it's clear that the film is much more
French than Italian; we still get some trademarks of Italian cinema
thrown in and the film has elements of both the Polizi and Giallo
genres. The plot simply focuses on an unknown serial killer that
targets loose women in Paris by way of phone calls and later murder.
Commissioner Jean Letellier and Inspector Moissac are put on the case
and have to go through the Parisian underworld before coming close to
catching the killer and discovering his insane reason for murdering the
women of Paris.
The thing that really makes this film stand out is the leading performances courtesy of Jean-Paul Belmondo and Charles Denner. The pair fit into their roles excellently individually and have a great chemistry also, which director Henri Verneuil is keen to exploit as much as possible as the two actors provide the film with most of its best moments and also deliver some comedy. The film is not overly gory and the focus is never on the murders; although there are a few featured and the way that the director focuses on the killer's black gloves is a nice nod towards Giallo. The film features many of the crime film staples such as car chases and shootouts; a sequence that sees the main protagonist chase the killer in the middle of the film is excellently staged and very thrilling. The film changes pace many times throughout but the director always manages to keep things interesting. Adalberto Maria Merli's portrayal of the villain is suitably demented and detestable and the way that the film boils down towards the conclusion is well done and completely unexpected. Overall, this is an excellent film that doesn't deserve to be forgotten about and therefore comes highly recommended!
"Fear Over The City" is one of those films that invented what later became known as the clichés of the "serial-killer thriller" subgenre. It's all here: the mad killer who fancies himself a moral avenger, the "Freudian" explanations of his behavior, the threatening phone calls to the potential victims and the taunting ones to the police, the hostage situation at the end, etc. The structure of the film is almost experimental, with a chase sequence in the middle that goes on for about 30 minutes, and an entire subplot (about a bank robber who killed Belmondo's previous partner) that is little more than a mere distraction. Belmondo is good as the cynical, hard-as-nails cop, and yes, he does perform some stunts in this movie that are worthy of Jackie Chan at his finest. He has some great moments of black humor, too ("his heart really IS bleeding!") (**1/2)
Oh, how I love the raw and gritty 70's action cinema! Most of it was all about rude and extremely unorthodox macho police detectives hunting down utterly deranged psychopaths that leave a trail of terror and bloodshed throughout the most major cities of our world. The US delivered a couple of brilliant milestones in the genre (like "Dirty Harry" and "The French Connection"), Italy is probably world record holder with all their masterful "Poliziotteschi" classics, and also France proudly owns a handful of goodies. Henri Verneuil's "Peur sur la Ville" is a prototypic 70's cop thriller, and this definition basically translates into: high adrenalin action from start to finish, straightforward but tense plot lines, cool cops, nightmarish criminals, sharp dialogs, pitch-black humor and an awesome soundtrack! J-P Belmondo is absolutely terrific as the dry and sarcastic Commissioner Letellier, charged with the case of a misogynic killer who menaces his victims via the phone prior to actually strangling them. Letellier is initially quite reluctant to lead the investigation, as he's too preoccupied with catching the bank robber that killed his previous partner, but then manages to conjoin the two man hunts. The killer, who baptized himself Minos, is a delightful lunatic with one creepy-looking glass eye and a rather peculiar opinion on femininity. "Peur sur la Ville" features many recurring highlights, like the many sardonic interactions between Commissioner Letellier and his partner Moissac, but of course the most obvious aspect to worship here is the action. Belmondo literally bounces around Paris, from the rooftops of apartment buildings to all the way down in the subway network. One particular chase sequence lasts for nearly twenty minutes and includes both of Letellier's suspect targets. Making it all even more impressive is the fact that J-P Belmondo performed his own stunts. Gazing at some of the set pieces, I can assure you that he repeatedly must have risked his neck throughout this production. Nearly forty years later now, films like "Peur sur la Ville" may indeed come across as somewhat dated and overly clichéd, but it's still tremendously exhilarating and entertaining. Besides, back then those clichés weren't clichés just yet. It's just indescribably charming and fun to watch car-chases featuring those typical light European automobiles making random casualties left, right and center. The climax is tense, albeit a bit tedious and overly stretched, and you won't notice for a second that this is actually quite long for an action/thriller (+120min). Last but definitely not least, the always reliable Ennio Morricone delivers a dazzling soundtrack as well. Hearing his eerie tones during the opening credits, and you just know you're about to witness an overall excellent movie.
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