Movie Fan Man: Cinema Connoisseur

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The Wiley Gangster

by Tony Nash

(a Part of Poliziotto e Criminale: The Poliziotteschi of the 1970’s)

(all opinions are of the author alone)

(Mild Spoilers)

(This review is of the original Italian language version)

Napoli spara! | Film, Fantascienza, Storia del cinema

Napoli Spara! (Weapons of Death/Shoot, Naples, Shoot!) (1977) **** R

Leonard Mann: Commissario Antonio Belli

Henry Silva: Salvatore Santoro

Jeff Blynn: Special Agent Salvatore Guidi

Massimo Deda: Gennarino

Ida Galli: Lucia Parisi (as Evelyne Stewart)

Massimo Vanni: The Undercover Cop

Tino Bianchi: Don Alfredo Criscuolo

Mario Pilari: Michele Rosati

Enrico Maisto: Ferdinando Licata

Tommaso Palladino: Vincenzo Calise

Adolfo Lastretti: The Pedophile

Written by: Gianfranco Clerici and Vincenzo Mannino

Directed by: Mario Caiano

Synopsis: Naples Police Commissioner Belli becomes determined to stop on the rise mobster Santoro, but can’t pin anything on him, while also trying to convince a youngster to stop hustling people. While finding evidence against the crafty criminal, Belli deals with everything from armed robbery to petty crime to sexual offenders.

Weapons of Death (Napoli spara!) - Internet Movie Firearms ...

By the late 1970’s, the Euro Crime films were beginning to dwindle in popularity, but some were still able to entertain and excite audiences all over Italy. Napoli Spara! is one of many examples of a late period of Euro Crime to maintain an exciting atmosphere and story. Mixing a central story with some side plot lines, audiences get to see the main police inspector character go from mission to mission, and meeting to meeting with either suspects or fellow police force members as he tries to end the reign of terror and violence being instigated by an ambitious mobster looking to become a major power player in the area. While a fun and entertaining ride, like any police film of the period it had its relations to real life events. The local governing body of Naples at this period had collapsed and the Mafia pretty much had total control of the city, but there was still an element of order still in play via the police department, albeit a somewhat overworked and over taxed department relying primarily on each unit’s own personal judgments.

Weapons of Death (Napoli spara!) - Internet Movie Firearms ...

Leonard Mann, an Italian American actor who returned to his family’s roots to act in films, does the standard, but still effective performance as the lead detective Belli. A cop frustrated by the machinations of both the professional underworld and the petty amateur criminals, Mann has Belli constantly on edge and giving both his superiors, and the men under his command constant speeches in how they should be more effective curtailing the constantly rising crime rates of the area. While unapologetically rough, gruff, and no-nonsense, Belli also has a sensitive side in his fatherly affection of the juvenile delinquent Gennarino, a hustler and con artist Belli constantly tries to reform, with seemingly no results. Mann shows off his capabilities as a stuntman in the film when Belli must climb atop a stolen tanker truck to subdue the driver who has just caused the death of a family on an afternoon drive.

Weapons of Death (Napoli spara!) - Internet Movie Firearms ...

Henry Silva, one of the many 50’s and 60’s eras American actors who had a successful second career in Italy, is his usual smiling menace and steely eyed stone face as Santoro. One of the deadlier baddies of the Euro Crime genre, Santoro leads daring robberies in broad daylight with little worry of who gets in his way. His aim is to take over one of the bigger syndicates from one of the ailing dons of the crime families. While he has little concern for the majority of civilians who often become casualties of his crimes, he has a surprising respect for Commissioner Belli who’s constantly on his tail and dogging him. This is partly because Belli has saved his life via competitors and because Santoro respects a man who doesn’t let the confines of procedure stop him from getting the job done.

(Sadly, Silva didn’t provide his voice for the English dubbing)

Napoli spara: Guida TV, Trama e Cast - TV Sorrisi e Canzoni

Ida Galli, was more known in the seventies by her Anglo pseudonym Evelyn Stewart (and its occasional variant spellings), makes a very brief, but necessary cameo appearance as Lucia Parisi. Lucia provides the key to helping take down Santoro, but is probably unaware of what importance she holds. Jeff Blynn, an American model in Europe turned actor, plays a supporting role of agent Guidi. Guidi is a special operative that primarily works undercover as a cab driver who deals mainly in thefts via automobiles, and also follows around people of interest for arrest and questioning by the police.

Weapons of Death (Napoli spara!) - Internet Movie Firearms ...

An interesting cast note, the character of Guidi was originally meant to feature more prominently in the film, and was to be played by Maurizio Merli. Leonard Mann wasn’t keen on working with Merli after having heard stories about Merli’s on set behavior, and having met the actor at one point and taking an immediate dislike to him.

Inseguimento car chase - Napoli spara! 1977 - YouTube

By the numbers in terms of plot and action, Napoli Spara! still offers the high octane entertainment that fans of the time and even the fans of today expect from the genre. Even on the smaller scale than its predecessors, there’s still plenty to love about the film.

(I do highly recommend this film for fans of action crime films and the Euro Crime genre as a whole. The ending is something of a let down and not the usual fare that fans would expect, and while certainly different and daring, unfortunately hurts the film more than helps. It would’ve been interesting to see Leonard Mann and Maurizio Merli working together in the same film, but no one can really blame Mann for being wary of Merli’s reputation as something of a prima donna. Merli’s name on the film certainly would’ve raised in the ante in anticipation, profit, and even budget for the film’s overall success, but the cast at hand still does a fine job. The film is on a Blu Ray double bill with Italia Amano e Armata (A Special Cop in Action) from Dorado Films. Their transfer of the film via audio and visual is really good considering they’re a relatively small company. )

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Filed under: Film: Analysis/Overview, Film: Special Topics

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