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June 11, 2015

Killer Cop

killer cop poster.jpg

La Polizia ha le Mani Legate
Luciano Ercoli - 1975
Raro Video BD Region A

The Italian title translates as "The police have the hands tied", although both that and Killer Cop are misleading regarding what goes on here. The official English language title was The Police can't Move. Quibbles about the title aside, this is one of Luciano Ercoli's better films of eight films he directed.

Without being overly quirky, the cop hero, Matteo Rolandi, looks more like an academic, has longish hair, and never goes anywhere without his paperback copy of Moby Dick. Rolandi has his own white whale, an old, slightly beat, Mercedes-Benz. Pursuit of a drug smuggler brings Rolandi to a hotel, coincidentally at the same time a bomb explodes. Supposedly the work of an unnamed radical group along the lines Italy's Red Brigade, Rolandi discovers that there are other forces at work with a different kind of agenda.

Things get complicated when Rolandi's best friend, a fellow cop, is murdered by the suspected bomber, and the investigation of the bombing is taken up by a judge who finds Rolandi to be a nuisance. The judge is played by Arthur Kennedy, providing a token of Hollywood star power, but the film mostly belongs to Claudio Cassinelli as Rolandi.

kennedy ercoli.jpg

Ercoli is especially good in filming the bombing of the hotel lobby, with a montage of flying body, lobby furnishing breaking apart, not quite in slow motion, slow enough to provide a sense of how much damage was done in something that would flash by in real life. There is a second explosion, with a car destroyed in a fire that lasts long enough to allow Kennedy to warm up his hands in the waning flames when he arrives at the scene. It is some of the throwaway moments that help distinguish Killer Cop, as when Rolandi's girlfriend pulls down her panties for a "quickie" in Rolandi's car, or Rolandi tosses his cigarette lighter onto the descending coffin of his friend prior to burial.

Ercoli also has a penchant here for several shots employing mirrors within shots, as well as glasses, and reflecting surfaces. The bomber has had his glasses taken from him in a scuffle before the bombing, so there is a sub-plot involving his own inability to see things accurately. But one might take that particular element further in that that Kennedy may have his own near-sightedness involving his interpretation of events, as well has how the audience, with Ercoli as guide, may view the activities of the real conspirators.

The film ends ambiguously. I would like to think that the inclusion of Moby Dick was no gimmick, but a comment on Rolandi's idealism in his role as as a policeman, as well as his obsession in pursuing the real criminals.


Posted by Peter Nellhaus at June 11, 2015 06:18 AM