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Friday, January 16, 2015

MILANO CALIBRO 9 / CALIBER 9 (1972)

The first in Fernando Di Leo’s Mafioso Trilogy is a violent triple-cross bagman story out of Milan. No film classic, but far superior to the Palermo-based third entry IL BOSS/’73. It certainly starts well with a pass-the-loot prologue that follows a $300 thou package as it’s handed off five or six times before landing with the thug-in-chief who opens it to find nothing but paper inside. Someone’s gonna pay! Three years on, a mid-level mob guy gets out of jail and is pressed for the missing cash. Has he got it; or not? Various mob groups; cops; his old girl; everyone thinks so. Di Leo teases this out with escalating violence and a smartly picked cast of characters (and character actors) who make things easy to follow. But what an odd technique he has. The location work is satisfying and clear (if not particularly inventive or exciting), but interiors are airless, often like an Italian version of DRAGNET, right down to the stiff action/fight stuff. All shot with camera set ups you might choose if you were making a home & office furniture catalog; wholesale, not retail.

DOUBLE-BILL: Coming Soon to this Space: THE ITALIAN CONNECTION/’72, the middle part of Di Leo’s trilogy.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Gravely-voiced Lionel Stander dubs his own English as the big bad Americano boss. But the film plays better in Italian w/ subtitles. And there’s a suitably gravely Italian voice to match Stander’s distinctive growl.

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