COLT 38 SPECIAL SQUAD (Massimo Dallamano, 1976) **1/2
Slightly above-average and pretty bleak poliziottesco; it came, more or less, halfway through the run of the genre and, while well enough made, it is also curiously undistinguished (though buoyed by a typically great pounding score by Stelvio Cipriani and expert cinematography by Gabor Pogany). The “Special Squad” of the title is a hand-picked team of fearless cops determined to fight the most nefarious criminal minds – their prowess and agility gives rise to plenty of exciting chase sequences (cue the remarkable stuntwork which often came in handy within this particular genre) but only one of them is really well-defined as a character.
However, there’s also the topical element of terrorism – exemplifying such heinous acts as plagued the country during this era – with a couple of spectacular but harrowing explosions in public places. The film is given a nice boost by having Marcel Bozzuffi, best-known for playing the criminal pursued by Gene Hackman in THE FRENCH CONNECTION (1971), essaying the role of the iconoclastic cop this time around! Carole Andre', a regular starlet in Italian films of the time, is somewhat wasted as the long-suffering moll (though leading an outwardly luxurious life) of one of the hoods; her one attempt to stand up to the gang, plus her innocent involvement with a member of the Squad, seals her fate and she’s eventually marked for death. Ivan Rassimov is the dour villain, typically given a fashionable name (Il Marsigliese) and who engages throughout in a cat-and-mouse game with Bozzuffi – the former had killed Rassimov’s brother in a run-in with the police, and the criminal reiterated by murdering Bozzuffi’s spouse. The final showdown (with Bozzuffi predictably turning up to execute Rassimov just when it seems he’s likely to get away) is swift but nonetheless effective; disappointingly, they share no real confrontation scene.
Unfortunately, this turned out to be director Dallamano’s last film; he died some time after the end of shooting in a car accident! Also, Grace Jones makes an unremarkable early appearance here as a nightclub singer. The No Shame Limited Edition DVD is quite splendid: not only because of the shining transfer of the film itself and some wonderful supplements – fascinating interviews with both editor Antonio Siciliano and composer Cipriani – but also the fact that it includes a bonus feature on a second disc, namely Luciano Ercoli’s own swan-song called THE RIP-OFF (1978), actually a poliziottesco spoof once thought lost and which I’ll get to in due time...
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