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  Stunt Squad The Killing Must StopBuy this film here.
Year: 1977
Director: Domenico Paolella
Stars: Marcel Bozzuffi, Vittorio Mezzogiorno, Riccardo Salvino, Nello Pazzafini, Claudia Giannotti, Francesco Ferracini, Simona Ogier, Andrea Aureli, Ivana Novak, Eolo Capritti, Tito LeDuc, Beni Cardoso, Alfredo Zammi, Pasquale Basile, Renato Bassobondini
Genre: Action, Thriller
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Inspector Grifi (Marcel Bozzuffi) has trouble on his hands now the protection rackets in his city are getting way out of control. The latest menace is a gangster known as Valli (Vittorio Mezzogiorno), whose trick is to take money from businesses in return for not attacking them, and if they refuse or go to the police he sends a couple of heavies around dressed as telephone engineers who fit the payphone with explosive. One call from Valli and the whole premises are destroyed, and he does not care if anyone is injured or even killed in the process. Something has to be done - in the latest attack an old lady was slaughtered - and Grifi thinks he knows what... a new type of cop, someone who doesn't play by the rules.

Or indeed a whole squad of them, as Stunt Squad detailed in a movie that was part of the Italian Poliziotteschi craze where the current events of a crime-seized nation, with murders, kidnappings and robberies headline news almost every day, was reflected in the entertainment you could see at the ever-popular cinema. Except the cinema in Italy was beginning to lose its allure with the public, and one reason was that the producers were running out of ideas, not that this ever stopped them before, they simply borrowed ideas from hit movies from abroad, usually Hollywood, but this form of thriller was running its course after literally hundreds of them made cheaply and flooding the market since the sixties.

This was one of the last before the genre succumbed to itself, and it was not one of the most famous, but it has been rediscovered over the years thanks to predictably energetic stunts from the usual team of daredevils, and an interesting political side that delivered on the action while voicing a concern that the police force itself may become irrelevant if they could not stem the flow of lawbreaking that had the country in a vice-like grip. The trouble with this situation, it reasoned, was that if the cops were regarded as weak, and as good as useless for much of the time, the man or woman in the street was going to take that law into their own hands and dole out violent retribution on those who had wronged them.

Vigilantism, essentially, was the fear, and this contained a memorable finale where it seemed all Inspector Grifi's nightmares had come true, though it had to be said the rest of this, the lead up to that bleak conclusion where the modern society had debased itself to that extent, was pretty much business as usual as far as these types of movies went. A car chase here, a fist fight there, and of course the gun battles, they were all present and correct, with the twist that Grifi was putting together a team who could step up and take on these ultra-violent bad guys an unironic version of the Dirty Harry instalment Magnum Force; that film had observed this was a terrible idea, while here we were told the out of control lawmen were all we really had left between the general citizenry and those who had no qualms about doing them harm.

Was this an endorsement of fascist methods, or was it a symptom of the despair Italy was going through in the seventies where terrorists and gangsters of all political stripes, and sometimes none, just in this for the money, seemed to be doing a more decisive job of ruling the nation than the Government? It was ambiguous at best, certainly our hero (bullet-headed Bozzuffi a forceful presence as ever, here getting his chance at a heroic lead rather than a villain) had his reservations as witnessed in that final sequence, but Valli was so vile, seemingly caring for nothing except his pet birds, that we were encouraged to think this "It's the only language they understand" approach was all that was left at the police's disposal. This was one of those action thrillers where halfway through you would be wondering if there would be anyone left alive by the time the credits rolled, and veteran director Domenico Paolella set about the action with some gusto, merrily mowing down his characters and extras as if it was going out of fashion. Which for this strain of cop thriller, it was. Music by Stelvio Cipriani.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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