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June 23, 2006

The last films by Massimo Dallamano and Luciano Ercoli

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Colt 38 Special Squad/Quelli della Calibro 38
Massimo Dallamano - 1976
NoShame Films Region 1 DVD

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La Bidonata/The Rip-Off
Luciano Ercoli - 1977
NoShame Films Region 0 DVD

The best moment in Colt 38 Special Squad happens about an hour and a half into the film. Marcel Bozzufi (seen above), takes a small hatchback to chase after villain Ivan Rassimov. In the terrific show of stunt driving, the car hops onto a moving freight train that normally tranports cars, and drives across the length of the train before hopping back onto the road. It's an extraordinary moment in a film that would otherwise be merely better than average.

In addition to featuring one of the villainous Frenchmen from The French Connection, Colt 38 Special Squad is full of chase scenes. That the film is about a special squad of policemen who sometimes operate in ways not by the book brings to mind Connection producer Philip D'Antoni's The Seven-Ups. Bozzufi leads a group of four young men who are taught to be cool under fire, shoot bad guys at the knees, and use motorcycles to get around. Most of the film concerns the team attempting to discover who is behind several acts of terrorism using remote control dynamite.

Music is an important part of this DVD presentation. Composer Stelvio Cipriani noodles around on his piano before introducing Colt 38, and has a half hour interview discussing his music and working with director Massimo Dallamano. The film also features the then little known Grace Jones, seen here as soul singer and far from the intimidating presence she would become.

The Rip-Off has a few comic stunts, but is more labored than funny. The story behind the film is actually more interesting than the film. Life duplicated life when the producer of this film about a kidnapping scheme was kidnapped himself. The Rip-Off was officially shelved and considered lost following this incident, althought the producer was released unharmed. The DVD by NoShame is the first time this film has publicly become available in any format. Director Luciano Ercoli was more effective with his Death Walks giallo films. Similarily, star Walter Chiari has been in much better films. There is some cleverness as Chiari, seen above with his two partners, follows the kidnappers with assorted trucks and cars, but more often The Rip-Off is the kind of film that is funnier in description than what actually on screen. Had the filmmakers achieved their aspirations, The Rip-Off would have succeeded as a blend of The Italian Job (the original version) and Big Deal on Madonna Street.

Posted by peter at June 23, 2006 10:00 AM