17 February 2016 | Leofwine_draca
Distinctive Italian crime is far from run of the mill
CITY UNDER SIEGE is something of an atypical entry in the Italian polizia genre. Sure, it has all of the required trappings present in these filthy little crime films: there are rapes, violent robberies, shoot-outs, hostage situations, suicides, drugs, orgies, prostitutes, and squad cars racing down the streets with their tyres squealing and their horns blaring. These are all filmed perfectly well and give the film a classic '70s feel. Yet, on top of that, there's a main story of how vice, sleaze and corruption are rife in the city of Turin, and which shows how a middle-aged cop and his reporter friend attempt to clean up the rackets and get to the bottom of things.
Inevitably it's a downbeat story, but there are nevertheless some highs, especially a uniquely original climax – I haven't seen the like anywhere else in this genre, and it's a good one. Enrico Maria Salerno (THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE) is well cast as the ageing hero, a cop with heart problems troubled by the lack of morals he sees everywhere around him. He really gets us on side from the beginning so that we end up rooting for him. His foil is sometime director Luciano Salce, who supplies a lot of cynical comic relief to the proceedings.
The lovely Francoise Fabian pops up in a supporting role, leaving the viewer entranced by her beauty every time she appears. Weirdly, some of the film appears to have been played for laughs, and it's not sure whether this was true of the original, or whether it's the fault of the dubbing. It makes for a sometimes unwieldy combination of drama and chuckles. Director Romolo Guerrieri works hard, though, and in the end his efforts pay off. CITY UNDER SIEGE is unusual enough to be distinguishable from the dozens of other cops-and-robbers flicks filling Italian cinemas in the 1970s.