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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Maurizio Merli ...
Marco Palma
Giancarlo Sbragia ...
Maresciallo Tagliaferri
Angelo Infanti ...
Jean-Paul Dossena / il Nizzardo
...
Francesca
Glauco Onorato ...
Pistone
Orazio Orlando ...
Silicato
Gaetano Balestrieri ...
(as Gaetano Balistreri)
Rosario Borelli ...
Maresciallo Bresciani - the car repairer
Tullio Casarino
Paolo Casella
Gabriele Domenichini ...
(as Vito Gabriele Domenighini)
Vittorio Fanfoni ...
Dossena's Man
Tom Felleghy ...
The Customer in the Car Showroom
Manfred Freyberger ...
Questore
Claudio Giorgi
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Truckloads of explosive action!

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Action | Crime | Drama

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19 October 1977 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Highway Racer  »

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HIGHWAY RACER (Stelvio Massi, 1977) **
14 November 2008 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

This is a low-grade poliziottesco, the second I've watched from former cinematographer Massi – and a much inferior product to the character-driven EMERGENCY SQUAD (1974). In fact, as the title itself suggests, the film is virtually a non-stop succession of car chases – filled with spectacular (but often unbelievable) stuntwork staged by the ubiquitous Remy Julienne. Its other major flaw is the miscasting of lead Maurizio Merli as a speed-crazy rookie cop(!), a role better suited to Giuliano Gemma (who had actually played a racing-car driver in Luciano Ercoli's THE MAGNIFICENT DARE DEVIL [1973]) or even Luc Merenda. Amusingly, to give us the impression that the hero is brash and inexperienced, Merli simply had his trademark moustache shaved off!; while his essential woodenness was usually offset by a genuinely authoritative/tough presence and street-smart attitude, here, he comes across as not merely glib but dumb as well! For the record, according to the "Stracult" guide, HIGHWAY RACER is a favorite of both Massi and Merli – go figure!

The majority of the plot, if so it can be called, revolves around the obsessive manhunt by Merli's ageing superior (a legendary iconoclast himself in the old days!) for a notorious criminal/ace driver emanating from Nice. After some initial aggravation between Merli and the Chief (the hero even causes the death of his perennially scared-shitless partner when their inadequately-empowered police car overturns during a chase), the old man is quick to realize that if he's to fight "Il Nizzardo" tooth and nail, Merli's the one to do it – cue the young cop's intensive training to maneuver the revved-up engine on the road and other even more treacherous terrain. Merli's also given an obligatory romance, supplied by lovely "Euro-Cult" starlet Lilli Carati – but her part is so underwritten as to be almost an afterthought! Incidentally, the hero's eventually made to infiltrate the villain's gang – but he's unwittingly exposed by the girl herself prior to their next hit. By now, Merli's so intent on testing his acquired skills with those of the criminal that he even lets the latter go when cornered instead of arresting him…only for the two to meet up for a duel-to-the-death with their cars in a canyon!

A couple other things: the main riff from Heavy Rock band Iron Butterfly's signature tune "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" is ever so subtly (but recognizably) incorporated into Stelvio Cipriani's score towards the end of the film!; also, when I discovered that among the U.S. titles attached to this one is CONVOY BUSTERS, I mistakenly thought it had been released as a "Special Edition" by No Shame. However, when I went to check for reviews of that particular DVD, I realized that the original title of the film in question was UN POLIZIOTTO SCOMODO, made in 1978…albeit re-uniting the same lead and director! Confused? (Actually, it's much the same thing that went on with two separate gialli called at one time or another PARANOIA, both of which were directed by Umberto Lenzi and starred Carroll Baker.)


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