Stars – Arthur Kennedy, Claudio Cassinelli, Sara Sperati, Franco Fabrizi, Bruno Zanin
Director – Luciana Ecoli
Released by Raro Video
Reviewed by Steven Ruskin
Killer Cop is a misleading translation of the title. It builds up the expectation of a loose cannon trigger happy cop out for vengeance. A more accurate one for La Polizia Ha Le Mani Legate would be The Police Can’t Move or The Police Have Their Hands Tied. In the realm of action packed Poliziotteschi (Italo-crime), this one stands apart. While following a drug dealer to a hotel detective Ronaldi (Claudio Cassinelli) finds himself in the midst of an international convention. He goes about his work until all hell breaks loose when a suitcase left at the concierge explodes. This terrorist attack leaves bloodied bodies everywhere. The whole lobby is reduced to rubble. Ronaldi learns that a man in a green raincoat was seen trying to remove a suitcase just before the bomb went off but any witnesses are left dead. Ronaldi’s instincts kick in as he tries to locate the seemingly reluctant terrorist. Another detective Balsamo stumbles upon this very same bomber as he leaves a note for the police in a phone booth apologizing, saying it was a mistake. Balsamo is not much of a cop and he looses him on a bus.
It’s a great tradition for Italian films of this era to include an American star who is perhaps a bit past his prime in the US but still good box office in Europe. Arthur Kennedy was in Man From Laramie (1955) and Lawrence of Arabia (1962). Here he is one pissed off man in charge. He is a politically driven police commissioner who makes a real promise to track down this heinous terrorist. The plotline is very much like a police procedural. Ronaldi uncovers facts and tracks them down. He finds out the terrorist lost his glasses at the scene and is subsequently as blind as Mr. Magoo. This guy we suspect is mentally unstable and was being used by others to plant the suitcase. At one point Ronaldi has an optometrist call all the shops in there area to be on the lookout for this guy. He even gets his prescription to pass along. Someone spots him and calls the detective. Ronaldi arrive a moment too late but learns the guy is a junkie. The man also escapes with a pair of those testing glasses that make him look like Peter Lorre in Mad Love when he puts them on.
All of this is played straight. The costuming is done very well. No one runs around in clashing paisley jackets and loud plaid pants. It’s a departure from most in this genre that director Luciana Ecoli lets the film run on the strength of his characters. He presents much more of a police drama than an action picture. There are plenty of nice directorial details. Ronaldi drives a Mercedes. He is always explaining that it is used rather than have anyone suspect him of police graft. Whenever drives off we can see a huge part of one door painted in basic primer that is in desperate need of work. His friend Balsamo is presented as a successful ladies man but is forever coming up short just when he is being considered for a promotion. There is a bit of business between Ronaldi and his friend Balsamo with a lighter that becomes a very poignant touch. Killer Cop is a well done cop drama that is well worth your time. Fans of the genre not familiar with it will get a real kick out of it. In the interview Ecoli says that he preferred not to work with stars but rather down to earth actors that he could get along with and get work out of without having to succumb to the ego and politics associated with big names. He also assures us that this was a very professional shoot. All of that shows in the finished product.
Video – 2.35:1
“New HD transfer from original 35mm negative. Digitally restored.” This is a great looking transfer. The film has the hue and haze associated with some of those backstreets and the way they were shot in European films of that era. There is a good detail however everything retains a true filmic look with grain apparent as it should be. It looks good and natural.
Audio – PCM 2.0 Stereo in Italian with English subtitles, English dubbed
There are a few portions of the English dub that are supported by subtitles when the audio was not available. The soundtrack has an additive theme to it that bounces along in a nice fashion. It sounds to me like Arthur Kennedy’s voice in the English dub. Films of this time were generally shot without sound and dubbed later. However the Italian language version puts you in the picture much better
Extras – Interview with Alessandro Calosci (subtitled ), A fully illustrated booklet.
The director is very expressive about the film and his style of filmmaking.
On a scale of Poor, Fair, Good, Excellent, Classic :
Blue Ray – Excellent
Movie – Good