« Coffee Break | Main | Schramm »

April 12, 2016

Shadows in an Empty Room

blazing magnum japanese.jpg

Una Magnum Special per Tony Saitta / Strange Shadows in an Empty Room / Blazing Magnum
Alberto De Martino - 1976
Kino Lorber / Scorpion Releasing BD Region A

A film known by several titles, from an Italian director credited here as Martin Herbert, is enjoyable if you don't let things like logic and credibility get in the way. The U.S release poster, with a blind woman stepping into a dark room with a hanged man, and title, might suggest giallo, but this is really poliziotteschi, the Italian genre featuring cops who essentially break to law in the name of justice, or plain old revenge. While the Italian genre films, which often had a lower level Hollywood star or two, were normally seen stateside with a post-dubbed English soundtrack, De Martino has made a film directly in English. I don't know if the original script had the action taking place in Italy, but those familiar with other Italian genre films of the era will recognize this as having just about everything except for the product placement of J & B Scotch.

Shot in Canada, the film begins with a bank robbery in progress, with lots of shooting, and lots of broken glass, introducing Stuart Whitman as the very active Ottawa police chief, Tony Saitta, who has no problem taking the law into his own hands, efficiently shooting the robbers who are clearly mismatched and, unlike Dirty Harry, has no time for chitchat.

Whitman travels to Montreal to investigate the death of his young, college student sister, played by French-Canadian Carole Laure. Aside from the considerable age difference, kind of like Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise in Rain Man, Laure's accented English gets in the way of thinking that these two people are related. Whitman is aided by local cop John Saxon. Out of town cop investigating the death of his sister instead of leaving it to the Montreal police? No problem here. We've got Martin Landau as a doctor under suspicion, and Gayle Hunnicutt as the wife of the guy who runs university, who may know something. Tisa Farrow is Laure's college roommate, a blind girl who always is walking into trouble.

Along the way, there are a couple of guys who deal with stolen goods, who start running as soon as Saxon and Whitman show up. In an attempt to get some information from a trio of cross dressers, Whitman shows up and immediately gets into a fight with the three. Even forty years, the characters and the attitude shown towards guys "found at a fruit stand" would have been considered crude.

But there is the car chase, filmed and choreographed by Remy Julienne. Almost ten minutes of muscle cars racing through the streets of Montreal is a thing of beauty. Two cars leap and plunge through hilly streets simultaneously in pursuit of the third car. Two of the cars fly over a passing train. Cars crash through store front windows, a hydrant gets knocked over, and people scatter through the streets to avoid the mayhem. This is ballet with a Buick Skylark and a Ford Mustang.

Armando Trovajoli wrote a lightly jazzy score which occasionally uses that mid-Seventies musical staple, the wah-wah guitar. Along with De Martino credited as Martin Herbert, cinematographer Anthony Ford is reportedly the controversial filmmaker, Joe D'Amato. Screenwriters Vincenzo Mannino and Gianfranco Clerici anglicized their named as Vincent Mann and Frank Clark. In addition to writing several screenplays for De Martino, the two also have several screenplays filmed by Lucio Fulci, And while there is very little written about De Martino, it is amusing to read that in college days, he was part of a jazz trio with future directors Fulci and Antonio Margheriti.

blazing magnum spanish.jpg

Posted by peter at April 12, 2016 10:46 AM