Movie Fan Man: Cinema Connoisseur

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A Cop’s Revenge and Honor

by Tony Nash

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

(all opinions are of the author alone)

(Minor Spoilers)

(Review is of the Italian language version of the film)


Paura in Citta (Fear in the City/Street War/Hot Stuff) (1976) ***1/2 R

Maurizio Merli: Commissario Mario Murri

James Mason: Il Questore di Polizia

Raymond Pellegrin: Alberto Lettieri

Fausto Tozzi: Maresciallo Epsosito

Silvia Dionisio: Laura Masoni

Gianni Elsner: Agente Diotallevi

Cyril Cusack: Giacomo Masoni

Franco Ressel: Procuratore Lo Cascio

Written by: Giuseppe Rosati & Giuseppe Pulieri

Directed by: Giuseppe Rosati

Synopsis: Police Inspector Murri beaks all the rules with his special squad to take down a gang of murderous thieves. This particular gang is in greater danger from Murri himself as they have a connection to a tragedy from Murri’s past. OM Leoncino Mk.IV in "Paura in città, 1976"

The same year he did Roma Amano Armata (Rome Armed to the Teeth), Euro Crime star Maurizio Merli appeared in another film of the genre that, while not as unique as Armata, still provided a good dose of entertainment, story, intrigue, and action. Paura in Citta is far more plot and character driven than the usual tropes of the genre that focus on action subtle social commentary of the period, but still maintains the violent action the genre offered. The focus on storytelling and the characters involved is certainly unexpected and different, but at the same time offers a unique interpretation of the genre that shows what directions the genre could go had filmmakers been given a little more time to prepare the material. This go around sees a cop plagued by a recurring memory of a tragedy he couldn’t prevent, and the lengths and risks he’s willing to take to avenge not only the victims, but himself and others affected by the criminals. When the targets of his obsession escape from jail to kidnap a banker in charge of a huge monetary transaction by train, the cop sets in motion a wave of both professional and personal vendettas to see justice is complete.

Paura in città (1976) | il mio vizio e' una stanza chiusa

Maurizio Merli gives another of his rare fine performances in the role of Commissario Mario Murri. Merli rarely got to go into depth with a character in the genre, and goes into a fair bit of complexity with the character. Murri is a good cop consistently haunted by an experience from his past that eventually started affecting his work. Even before the tragedy took place, Murri was known for his unconventional and sometimes ruthless methods of apprehending criminals, which brought him into conflict with his superiors and government heads. While still in an administrative position, his superior the Prefect informs him he has a chance to redeem himself when the gang that affected his life escapes from jail to plan a big train robbery. Merli gets to explore something of a romance in this film as well as he falls in love with the daughter of the kidnapped banker he both has to protect and get information from regarding all of the business her father personally handled. This romance helps to bring him out of the shell of moroseness, but can’t quell the personal revenge he sorely needs to come full circle and be whole again.

Paura in città (1976) | il mio vizio e' una stanza chiusa

Paura in città (1976) смотреть онлайн

Best Actor: Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1973: Cyril Cusack in ...

British actors James Mason and Cyril Cusack, French actor Raymond Pellegrin, and Italian regulars Fausto Tozzi, Silvia Dionisio, and Franco Ressel help make up a fine cast of supporting players that are either Murri’s friends, his enemies, or those in a weary alliance with him. Mason plays Murri’s superior who has consistent stomach problems from worrying about the state of affairs of the country, and of how Murri’s actions will affect the political and public climate. Clearly an honest man, he’s also unafraid to put his foot down when necessary, and also gives Murri credit as a good cop. Raymond Pellegrin, who acted primarily in Italian crime films in the 70’s, plays the leader of the gang Murri swears revenge against. Ruthless and without any kind of morality, the gang leader does anything and everything to ensure the success of his schemes. An action of his in the past obviously went too far, and now without fully realizing it, has made his own life null and void. His straightforward kidnapping of a banker gives Murri the ammunition he needs to go after the man and his thugs. Cyril Cusack plays the timid banker whose information and clout are needed by the gang to pull off a seemingly full proof heist of an armored train robbery. Whether he participates willingly or not is up to interpretation.

Paura in città - Wikipedia

TRAILER - Paura in città - YouTube

Cool Ass Cinema: 02/07/09

Fausto Tozzi plays one of the members of Murri’s special squad. Like Murri, his character has no qualms about how to get the job done in bringing down criminals and making the city safe. While Murri was put in administration for his actions, Tozzi;s character was placed in the automotive division of the department, which apparently is very boring. When he too is offered the chance to redeem himself as well, he takes the opportunity with vigor and enthusiasm. Silvia Dionisio, an underrated actress and model, plays the daughter of the kidnapped banker. Going through the motions of a lackluster and mundane life without love and affection, the young woman’s life becomes interesting and anew when she meets inspector Murri. The relationship is at first cop and essential witness, but soon turns to friendship and then to love as they give each other new reason to live and second chances at full lives. Franco Ressel has a short, but still interesting role as a prosecutor, and the head of the major crimes unit who must work with Murri in apprehending the criminal gang. Very by the book, he’s none too appreciative of Murri’s gung-ho antics and finds himself almost constantly at odds with him.

Cool Ass Cinema: Fear In the City (1976) review

Very different in that the focus of the film is on the story and the moral ambiguity/redemption of the Maurizio Merli character, Paura in Citta is still a finely done Action Crime Drama. While not offering the high octane action normally associated to the genre, there’s still plenty of suspense and an excellent pursuit journey to prevent a major heist from going down. All the characters are still interesting, and are surprisingly relatable and sympathetic. Not one of the best of the genre, but a very good middle of the road style.

(I do recommend giving this film a look at as it offers something different within the genre, and, like with Banda del Gobbo, still maintains some of the staples of the genre that everyone would still enjoy. Maurizio Merli offers up an usually sympathetic portrayal of a policeman battling personal demons that can only leave him alone when he faces the men that ruined his life. This proves to be quite different from the usual gung-ho fascist like cops who’ve lost faith in the human race that he would normally play. The Blu Ray from Germany’s Koch Media Euro Crime boxset offers up a nice transfer in visual and audio quality. There’s some slight popping and hissing with the audio, but nothing to dampen the enjoyment of the film. The Blu Ray is English friendly, but only in the dubbed audio track, and no subtitles, but the Italian audio isn’t too hard to understand. There’s also a DVD from Italy, but that isn’t English friendly I’m afraid.)

all images courtesy of Images and their respective owners

for more information

Normally I would offer a buying option here, but with the COVID Pandemic going on, I’m not sure how many German retailers are actually selling this in their online shops and and the same can be said with the all the Amazons, so I do recommend doing a little searching



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

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