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When Terry Levene distributed this film in the late 1970's, he replaced a few of the establishing shots with those of American locations. For an establishing shot of the Rome youth center where Tanzi meets Stefano, Levine used a shot of the Manhattan night club "Fascination". Strangely enough, in the later Lenzi film Da Corleone a Brooklyn (1979) (which also starred Maurizio Merli as an Italian policeman), Merli drives by the club "Fascination" after he arrives in New York. See more »
The opening credits are played while the camera in first person view mode (From a criminal's POV) drives through Rome looking at banks and building societies and leaves the city through a long, dark tunnel as the credits end. See more »
ROME ARMED TO THE TEETH (Umberto Lenzi, 1976) **1/2
For the most part, this is one of the better poliziotteschi I've watched with several of the virtues associated with the genre - unrelenting action, pounding score, hard-boiled dialogue, an undercurrent of sleaze - and two of its top stars in Maurizio Merli and Tomas Milian.
A measure of the film's popularity is the fact that the characters played by both leads here (Inspector Tanzi in Merli's case and Vincenzo Moretto, dubbed "The Hunchback", in Milian's) were developed into individual series: in fact, the latter appeared in two more outings, while Tanzi had only one more film to go - THE CYNIC, THE RAT AND THE FIST (1977) which, interestingly, still had Milian co-star as an odious criminal but in a totally different characterization. One other typical feature of the genre is the presence of a veteran American star - in this case, Arthur Kennedy as Merli's by-the-book superior (but who's eventually converted to our hero's iconoclastic viewpoint). The supporting cast, then, features any number of familiar faces who thrived in Italian genre movies - chief among them Ivan Rassimov and Luciano Pigozzi.
The film has no real plot to speak of - other than to place Tanzi, at times in rather contrived fashion, in the midst of some action set-up (chasing and/or beating up petty criminals or intimidating some rich-kid suspect) - and, hence, may feel somewhat disjointed. The narrative, however, takes care to include as many social plagues as possible - underage delinquents involved in snatch-and-grab cases, a gang-rape, a drug-overdose victim, a hold-up from a post office (which our hero manages to disrupt virtually single-handed), etc. Besides, while the requisite romantic subplot does come in, it's an unusually complicated one - as Tanzi's girlfriend happens to be a magistrate whom he believes to be too lenient, and the couple eventually decide to go their separate ways. That said, I feel that the climactic showdown between Merli and Milian comes up a bit short in comparison with the action sequences throughout the rest of the film.
Still, the film is quite often hilarious: my favorite moment is when Merli blows his top in front of an elderly colleague - but whose meek interjection eventually leads Tanzi to crack the case! For genre addicts, however, the absolute cult scene in the film is the one in which Milian is made to swallow a bullet by the incensed Merli - but whose tough exterior isn't quite broken in the way the latter had expected, as The Hunchback proceeds to give out a loud hearty burp in defiance!
In the end, I ought to say that I'll be getting to another of Milian's poliziotteschi - EMERGENCY SQUAD (1974), where he's actually the cop hero - soon. Also, if my Unwatched DVD backlog hadn't taken a serious beating of late (I haven't gone through much but DVD-Rs and rentals for some time!), I would have been inclined to schedule a second viewing of the film (also directed by Lenzi) which contains perhaps his most important role in the genre, i.e. ALMOST HUMAN (1974) - via the "Special Edition" Italian DVD, which comes with an accompanying Audio Commentary (not included on the R1 "No Shame" release) and a second feature (Sergio Martino's VIOLENT PROFESSIONALS ) to boot!!
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