Iron Commissioner, The / Il commissario di ferro (1978)

3.0 out of 5

Impressive Stelvio Massi actioner, with Maurizio Merli surpassing his usual bitch-slapping and jaw-clenching mannerisms to emote some damn near Al Pacino/James Cann angst after having his son kidnapped by one of the ugliest rodents to appear on a poliziotteschi screen, Massimo Mirani, Mirani a more anemic version of Richard Simmons, the American exercise guru. This man now joins a glamorous gallery of rogues that includes the great Nello Pazzafini and Antonio Casale.

Boasting a fantastic score by Coriolano Gori, the music amps up all the suspense and, yet, supplies the quieter moments with unsentimental life and features heavily phased synthesizer string sections with synth bassoon/clavinet cues, plus dissonant horn sections bellowing and moaning throughout. Bravissimo. In addition to the top-form Merli, well-paced story and the snazzy music the viewer also gets treated to some of Massi's best camera-work. Lots of the usual zoom-ins and zoom-outs are now complimented by tight-focus tracking shots, mirrored exposures and one sensational prowling close-up of Merli making his way through a warehouse.

An above-average effort for Massi, but Merli stretches himself as an actor here, which lends to the movie's higher quotient of dramatic moments including a hostage situation right in the middle of a cop precinct office plus the exciting soundtrack alone makes this a worthy rental, one that far exceeds some of Massi's more unspectacular crimers and their oftentimes disappointing scores.

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