...a tutte le auto della polizia
Calling All Police Cars is one of the most notable obscurities to cross my desk in recent months. I say notable because its position within the landscape of popular Italian cinema of the 1970’s is truly undeserved. I have yet to read a negative assessment of this film, but the problem is being able to actually find any critical writing on it at all. The age of DVD has been particularly kind to some films and directors from this era, in some cases richly deserved, in others far from it. Mario Caino appears to be a director that frequently slips through the net, though the few films of his I have seen, easily stand up to many of his contemporaries. Caino is perhaps best known to fans of cult cinema for his 1965 gothic horror picture Nightmare Castle, which featured British actress Barbara Steele in dual roles, beautiful cinematography by Enzo Barboni, and a fitting score by Ennio Morricone. This distinctive contribution to Italian cinema’s gothic horror cycle was not really followed up though, as Caino found a productive niche in the popular and profitable spaghetti western cycle; titles include Ringo; Face of Revenge (1967, featuring Anthony Steffen), Train for Durango (1968) and My Name is Shanghai Joe (1973, featuring Klaus Kinski). Caino further proved his skill at adapting to different genres with Milano Violenta (1976, aka Bloody Payroll) and the Henry Silva starring Weapons of Death (1977), both of which were assured entries in the Euro-Crime cycle. A departure into the vile and sleazy world of Nazisploitation resulted in Caino’s most controversial film Nazi Love Camp 27 (1977), which, despite its subject matter, was still quite effective.
After the body of Icardi’s daughter is discovered at a lake the film develops a rather sophisticated sub-plot involving a teenage prostitution racket. It is sophisticated because the whole sub-plot is in effect a red herring, but what it does do is indicate the extent to which the schoolgirls are a willing party to the iniquity. It also implicates high ranking politicians, which is a particular problem for Chief Carraro (Enrico Maria Salerno) who must undertake the difficult task of ensuring the culprits are brought to justice and make sure that certain high ranking officials emerge from the investigation unscathed. This instils a nice layer of conspiracy to the proceedings, and is probably the films most major concession to the Euro-Crime cycle. A feminist angle is included via the character of Giovanni Nunziante (Luciano Paluzzi) but this is undone somewhat by the schoolgirls’ teasing precociousness and their eager willingness to sell their bodies.
© Shaun Anderson 2012