Operation St. Peter's / Operazione San Pietro (1967)

3.0 out of 5

Operation St. Peter's is a Lucio Fulci comedy that stands at a watershed point in his career. While it is the case that he would return to comedy several times with The Eroticist, Young Dracula and My Sister In Law in the 1970s and the darker Touch Of Death much later Operation St.Peter's is the last of a wave of comedies before Fulci's directing career took a far darker turn following this up with the thriller One On Top of the Other.

A group of opportunist petty criminals become led by Napolean, played by Lando Buzzanca, after the incompetent assembly accidentally spring him from jail in a failed heist. Between them they manage to steal the famous and incredibly valuable La Pietà by Michelangelo from St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. This rouses the interest of old school gangster Joe Ventura, the inventor of the bloodbath, played by a post Grand Slam Edward G. Robinson who spends the movie largely trading on former career glory in a series of running jokes at his own expense.

In a theme that is not that dissimilar from The Eroticist the church is compared to the mafia as the "organisation" is mobilised to return the stolen artifact. The result is a slew of clerical vehicles taking to the road for a visual humour chase style finale to the film that runs along the lines of a theological take on It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World.

The film is pretty lightweight but shots are taken at the establisment church. Although not to the extent of later Buzzanca and Fulci collaboration The Eroticist.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics