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Enrico Maria Salerno,
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Actors are often accused of simply playing themselves, but this is ridiculous. According to the trivia page for this film, the title character (Pasquale Zagaria)shares the actual birth name of the actor playing him (Lino Banfi). For his sake, let's hope the rest of the film is not actually based on his life. For clarity's sake, from here on we will refer to the actor by his stage name. As 'Brigadiere' Pasquale Zagaria, Banfi plays a self confessed Master of Disguise who wants to be a crime solving detective, but has to settle for cases involving farm animals (which is presumably even more demeaning than being a 'pet detective'). Needles to say, he does not make much money.
'Il Brigadiere' is supported by his adoring wife Roberta, aka 'Puppeta' (Francesca Romana Coluzzi), who practices yoga in trees and Kung Fu fighting everywhere else (a very popular craze around 1973). It is she who has all the brains in this outfit, as well as the brawn. Coluzzi towers over all the other people in the film (especialy the men), which in a comedy like this means she's strong enough to hit a nail in a wall with one bare hand. Allowed to wear sexy outfits for once (though not performing Kung Fu in a bikini as depicted on some poster art), here we see Francesca a few years before being degraded to supporting status, usually portraying the 'giant freak' that lesser men (often Lino Banfi) try to escape.
When diamonds are found amongst chicken droppings, the Farm Yard Detective finally bumbles himself into the middle of a big investigation (though unknown to him both the police and the diamond smugglers view him as their patsy). Armed only with his 'courage' (as he puts it), a bunch of mostly unconvincing disguises and Inspector Clouseau clumsiness, Zagaria and Puppeta travel around in an absurdly tiny three wheeled car (she has to Rip the roof off in order to sit down). They follow a trail of mad cap set pieces involving a yacht, a motorcycle chase and getting lost amongst the catacombs of a convent (but not in that order). Of course by the end the crime does get solved, but Zagaria's part in bringing down the smuggling ring is too minimal to grant him any reward. He even ends up with less at the end than he had at the beginning. And that's what I love about these Italian comedies: they dare to be brutally honest to even their most beloved underdog protagonists: When your'e born to lose, the odds are forever against you.
6 out of 10
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