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In one of his livelier roles, Stuart Whitman plays an enraged detective who goes to Montreal to track down his sister's killer. He tears apart half the city but nobody seems to care. John Saxon, Martin Landau, Tisa Farrow and Gayle Hunnicutt co-star. There are also several chase scenes, a nude scene, many creepy characters including a dwarf gangster, a few gory murders and a ground-up corpse in a rock crusher. In the film's arguable highlight, Whitman gets into hand-to-hand combat with a gang of drag queens. The harrowing finale takes place in a hospital. With all this, there's still time for a convoluted if not too plausible plot that holds a few surprises. Retitled in different territories to rope in various fans, this AIP release hit the Albany NY drive-ins in 1978. It may not have been a real masterpiece but there were worse ways to spend a Saturday night.
An odd mix of hardcore police action and gaillo thrillers this plays like a macho cop drama where the "hero" prefers to beat up people to get even the simplest of answers while the killer remains hidden and stalking his victims. Its so arch as to be laughable as Whitman abuses person after person in order to get at the truth. Don't get me wrong the action is really well done but its the type of thing where it seems that just saying hello is going to get someone punched in the face. Its the sort of movie they don't make any more (and only did for a brief time in the early to mid 1970's) because they almost instantly became over the top and clichéd.
Don't get me wrong this is a good little thriller. Its got a hard edge to it thats nicely violent and lurid in an entertaining way. Frankly even if the film wasn't good on its own, it possesses a chase scene about an hour into the movie that is truly amazing. Clearly they were trying to one up Bullit, French Connection or the Seven Ups. And while its not quite the nail biter of those films it is a damn fine chase scene that has been unjustly forgotten by the ages.(and yes the end of the chase is a hoot).
If there is any real problem, aside from the macho to the point of silliness, its that there seems to be only one piece of music for the film thats played over and over again in every action scene. Its so wrong for the scenes to start with, but its constant repetition just makes everything sillier (not to mention it grates on ones nerves) Worth a look if you find it in the bargain bin.
After a family friend kindly allowed me to borrow a DVD of the Dario Argento film The Bird with the Crystal Plumage,I began to talk to him about other titles in the Giallo movie sub-genre.With also having recently heard of another movie sub- genre called Italian Crime,I was thrilled to hear that there was a movie which combined both sub- genres,which had had trouble in the UK,with the BBFC never allowing for an uncut version to come out,due to there being a scene involving a psycho holding a razor blade near a baby.
With discovering that the movie has not been brought out on DVD,I was disappointed to find that the only 2 bits of material that were around for the movie,was a leaflet about the Italian Crime sub-genre that was named after the movie,and a heavily cut,pre-cert UK Video,that was selling on some sites for outrageous amounts .
Since having given up almost a year ago on ever seeing the film,I decided to search around late one night for any info related to the title.Originally expecting nothing more than some stills to appear,I was instead happily caught by surprise,when I stumbled upon an uncut DVD of the movie,which led to me excitingly getting ready to find out how blazing this magnum really is.
Prepairing to go on a night out with his wife,Dr George Tracer's plans are interrupted,when his secret girlfriend Louise Saitta phones him up,and ask if he can rush over to her student hall to revive a student who has mysteriously fainted.
Changing his plans at the last minute,George rushes to the hall,gets Louise a drink to help calm her nerves,and then begins to attempting to revive the student.Catching everyone by surprise,the "ill" student suddenly jumps up,and reveals that she was just playing some fun and games.As Tracer tries to make sense of what is taking place,Saitta suddenly becomes extremely ill and falls to the ground,dead.
Ringing up the cops,George is greeted by the sight of Sgt Ned Matthew,and Louise's brother,Capt.Tony Saitta.Finding Louise to have been poisoned,Tony & Ned push Tracer around to find out why he would want to poison her.Relising that George is as shaken up by Louise death as he is,Tony vows to take what ever steps necessary to uncover the less than innocent world that his beloved sister lived in.
View on the film:
Being one of the few Italian movies from the period to feature an original soundtrack, (until the late 80s,most Italian titles were filmed silent,with the audio dubbed on in post-production)the screenplay by Vincenzo Mannino and Gianfranco Clerici has an eerie Giallo edge which acts as the perfect complement to the more bombastic Italian Crime side of the film,with the writer's using a character's blindness to create a real sense of menace,and to also reveal that the blind character is the only person who's "seen" the real life of Tony Saitta's sister.
Jumping off from a cliff right from the start,the writers make the Italian Crime side of the movie as delightfully deranged as possible,with Tony's attempts at tracking down his sister,being interrupted by a wonderfully vicious fight against a gang of transvestites,and a wild car chase,which leads to him getting the bare ,minimu of evidence!
Kicking down doors right from the start,Stuart Whitman gives a great gruff performance as Tony Saitta,with Whitman making Tony's relationship with Louise (played by the pretty Carole Laure) feel more dad/daughter,than the brother/sister one that its made out to be.Along with showing a gruffness in the hunt for his sisters killer,Whitman shows a real glee in his eyes,as he jumps into each of the overly exaggerated action scenes with a real relish.Giving the movie some sense of calm,Martin Landau gives a softly spoken,quiet performance as George Tracer,with Landau creating a real sense of intimacy between Tracer and Louise.
Showing no fear in not just taking on 1,but 2 sub-genre's,director Alberto De Martino packs every corner of the film with a number of stunning set-pieces,as Martino goes from smashing every piece of glass in Tony's battle with a gang of deadly transvestites,to placing a brilliantly animated 10 minute (!) long car chase scene at the centre,as Martino reveals that he is going to send this film out,all guns blazing.
Methinks the over-rated Dario Argento could learn a lot from a film such as this!
Stuart Whitman plays a cop who definitely does not go "by the book"--in fact I don't think he has ever even heard of "the book". After his sister is murdered in a bizarre poisoning at her college, Whitman (who is WAY too old to have a college-age sister) runs hilariously amok trying to capture the culprits. He brutalizes one suspect in a men's room (who turns out to be completely innocent). He endangers other motorists and pedestrians everywhere in a VERY long, very high speed car chase. And in my favorite scene he gets in a knock-down-drag-out brawl with a bunch of transvestites! The killer meanwhile is even more vicious, at one point even menacing newborn babies in a maternity ward with a gun and straight razor!
Obviously this movie is stupid, but it isn't dull for one second. It features the beautiful French-Canadian actress Carol Laure (who has a completely gratuitous, but highly enjoyable nude scene). On the downside though, it also has Tisa "the-much-less-talented-sister-of-Mia" Farrow playing a blind girl, the same role her sister played in a number of movies ("Wait Until Dark", "See No Evil"), thus leading me to believe they were just trying to exploit a famous name as both the actress and the character she plays are pretty useless (except for one wonderful moment when it looks like her character is going to accidentally stumble out a third-story window). Ms. Farrow notwithstanding though, I would highly recommend this movie.
So in the midst of foiling an armed robbery our hero police captain Is unaware of a looming tragedy , namely the death of his sister. The police duo including the captain's partner (Jon Saxon) first suspect that the communities beloved doctor (Martin Landau) is to blame.
Things are not what they seem. We follow a predictable plot line that was well thought out And discover the real story behind the captain's sister.
Average thriller. Clearly a french Canadian stylized dirty harry. A little more wit a little less .44 . The big win is of course as eluded the car chase , which when one discovers was the product of Remy Julienne and his crack driving team should be of no surprise.
Despite taking influence from such great films, this one is a long way from being brilliant itself; but it is at least great fun. The way that the central characters jumps in with both feet at every opportunity is great, and seeing him brutalise suspects at the drop of a hat does ensures that the film doesn't become boring on many occasions. Alberto De Martino is backed up by a good cast; with Stuart Whitman in the lead role and receiving good support from cult star John Saxon as well as the A-lister Martin Landau. This film is not very seen; but anyone who does see it will undoubtedly remember the car chase, which is peppered with clichés but is at least really well done; not least for the fact that it all comes off as the result of a minor piece of plot development! The film also borrows from other genres; with the Giallo genre creeping in during some scenes. It soon becomes clear that the film is not going to deliver anything meaningful by the ending but the climax does at least wrap things up nicely and while this is not a great film on the whole; it is lots of fun and well worth a look.