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  Silent Action Stop, Luc And Listen
Year: 1975
Director: Sergio Martino
Stars: Luc Merenda, Mel Ferrer, Delia Boccardo, Tomas Milian, Michele Gammino, Paola Tedesco, Franco Giornelli, Gianfranco Barra, Carlo Alighiero, Claudio Gora, Claudio Nicastro, Antonio Casale, Giovanni Di Benedetto, Arturo Dominici, Carlo Gaddi
Genre: Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: There has been a spate of suicides and accidents among some Italian military top brass, losing control of their vehicle and crashing into a tree, or lying down on a railway track to be decapitated, that kind of thing. Of course, what the police do not know is that they have been helped on their way to meeting their maker, thanks to the brakes being tampered with on said vehicle, or being knocked unconscious then made to look as if they have shot themselves through the head. Inspector Giorgi Solmi (Luc Merenda) suspects all is not well, and there may have been subterfuge involved, but how can he prove it?

One of about a billion poliziotteschi to be released in Italy in the nineteen-seventies, there was such a plethora of these that they really needed something to stand out from the crowd if they wanted to endure, though many were content to be something to go and see at the local fleapit for the week of release, make a profit that way, and slip from the memories of the audiences. Nevertheless, they have their fans to this day, those who know their Maurizio Merli from their Antonio Sabato Sr, and each new rerelease of the movies on home entertainment is often a cause for much interest. So where does this leave Silent Action?

Originally called La polizia accusa: il servizio segreto uccide (translated as The Police Accuse: The Secret Service Kills in a somewhat spoiler-tastic title), this was one of professional handsome man Merenda's efforts in the cop thriller vein, brought to you by director Sergio Martino, whose range was wide but is generally thought to have been most effective at the other big Italian genre of the seventies (aside from sex comedies), the giallo. Really what audience wanted from the cop thrillers was a bunch of bad guys getting swift and decisive justice, and not necessarily from the courts, more from a lawman who had no qualms about blowing them away with their standard issue handgun.

This instant satisfaction was notably missing from real life, as Italy was labouring under the criminal gangs and terrorists during this decade, who were proving a lot less easy to deal with than their fictional counterparts. Quite why, as in this, the public wanted to witness how bad things had become in a fictional setting is a mystery in itself, especially when there was no guarantee of a happy ending (in seventies cinema, happy endings were for squares), though in this kind of thing there was a guarantee of one actor getting to live his dream of exiting the movie in the style of Sonny in The Godfather - preferably near the end of the story, so you could make enough of an impression throughout the rest of it for your demise to have an impact.

Actually, Silent Action (which did not feature silent action, it featured noisy action like the others of its ilk) was less like The French Connection, say, and more like one of the Hollywood liking for conspiracy tales that developed throughout the seventies as the Watergate scandal began to filter down into the common consciousness. Italy added more car chases to the mix, and here, a helicopter chase that livens up the last act after the first half was more keen to concentrate on the intrigue, even with a giallo flavour as befitting Martino's talents, much screen time given over to the victimisation of one of the witnesses to the assassination that finally gives Insp. Solmi the leads he needs. Merenda was a dependable type in these and brought some urgency to the proceedings, which in truth were bogged down in its particular conspiracy to the extent you may find your attention wandering over to the action, but it was pretty decent stuff by and large. Fine music by Luciano Michelini, emulating Ennio Morricone.

[The Fractured Visions Special Edition Blu-ray has these excellent features:

2K Restoration from the Original Camera Negative
Original Italian Mono Audio with newly translated English subtitles
Newly Remastered English Mono Audio
Audio Commentary with Tough-guy film expert Mike Malloy
The Age of Lead: 1970s Italy
Directing the Strategy: A interview with Director Sergio Martino
Luc Unleashed: A interview with Actor Luc Merenda
Sergio and I: A interview with Composer Luciano Michelini
Archival interview with Luc Merenda
Archival featurette: The Milian Connection.

All that plus an informative booklet and the soundtrack on CD!

[Fractured Visions presents Silent Action on Blu-ray 12 April 2021: click here to order direct from them.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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