Blu-Ray Review – Milano calibro 9 (1972)

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Milano calibro 9 is one of the most iconic Italian poliziotteschi films of the ’70s. The poliziotteschi like the Spaghetti western of the ’60s was Italian filmmakers aping american films, this time films like The French Connection or Serpico but bringing a hyper violent and often political edge to the proceedings. Fernando Di Leo directed Milano calibro 9 and would direct many more poliziotteschi films but he actually got his start working on the Dollars Trilogy for Italian master Sergio Leone.

The story is very reminiscent of the classic crime film, a ex-con gets out but he may or may not have stashed some money before he got arrested years previously. The con’s ex boss the Americano has hired some thugs to try to retrieve the money or get him working for the Americana again but he is trying to go “straight”.  The film also has an expert use of a femme fatale played by Barbara Bouchet.

The opening sequence is one of the most startling I’ve ever seen due to its hyper violent nature.  The violence is backed  with a pounding psychedelic rock score by Italian band Osanna which is reminiscent of Ennio Morricone’s more experimental scores from the same time like the masterful Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion. The film came out in 1972 which was the year after films like A Clockwork Orange, Dirty Harry, Get Carter (which is very similar in tone to Milano calibro 9) and Straw Dogs which all broke many of the taboos of on-screen violence.

Di Leo regretted the about scenes with the police in the film and it some ways it’s unnecessary but as Matthew Holness says in the his appreciation it gives the viewer a breather and a nice counterbalance to the on-screen mayhem. The finished product is one of the closest Italian films I’ve seen to the noir of  ’40s and ’50s made by an Italian filmmaker but has enough violence to satisfy the most hardened genre fans. My  major flaw with the film is the horrible over dubbed but this was common practice by Italian filmmakers well into the ’80s!

Typical of Arrow’s releases it’s full of documentaries, interviews and  trailers. It also includes both the Italian and English dubs which is  becoming increasingly typical of Arrow’s releases of Italian films. It also includes a lengthy booklet which includes writings by Roberto Curti, author of Italian Crime Filmography, 1968-1980.

Ian Schultz

Genre:Crime,Thriller | Distributor: Arrow Video | BD Release Date: 15th June 2015 (UK) | Rating: 18 | Director: Fernando Di Leo | Cast: Gastone Moschin, Barbara Bouchet, Mario Adorf |Buy: [Dual Format Blu-ray + DVD]