The action centres on Ugo Piazza (Gastone Moschin), an ex-con who has just been released from prison and who is in the bad books of his former boss due to a large amount of missing cash. Adamant that he had nothing to do with the disappearance of the money, poor Ugo is set upon as soon as he gets out of prison, with some heavies, led by Rocco (the excellently-moustachioed Mario Adorf), drilling home the point that the big boss, “The Americano” (Lionel Stander), hasn’t forgotten about his missing pieces of eight. In order to find out who really took the money, Ugo agrees to fall back into the world of crime and work alongside Rocco for The Americano. With tensions high and trust issues aplenty, Milano Calibre 9 then unravels the type of story that makes for attention-monopolising viewing. Trust us, once you start watching the first of Di Leo’s Milieu Trilogy you won’t be able to look away.
Fernando Di Leo, a true master of his craft, arguably never created anything better than Milano Calibro 9, itself inspired from the works of Giorgio Scerbanenco, and his shooting style is perfectly complemented by Amedeo Giomini’s meticulously-timed editing and Goffredo Salvatori’s pitch-perfect musical anecdotes. Of course, another key component to this beautifully crafted tale is the casting. With Moschin doing wonders as the understated Ugo and Barbara Bouchet dazzling as former flame Nelly, it’s Adorf’s amped-up, cocksure Rocco who devours every scene he’s in, particularly when it involves playing off of Moschin’s toned-down turn as Ugo. Added to this, every single supporting player is delivered sublimely, be they friends-turned-hitmen, former bosses, politically-angled lawmen or simply bar staff.
Milano Calibro 9 really is a joy to behold, with its inquisitive, probing narrative dragging you along on its murky journey through the corrupt and dangerous Milanese streets. Despite its obvious nature, the film remains relatively gore-free yet manages to shock at regular intervals. Then there’s a wide variety of tiny nuances which bring great attention to the detail of the film’s key players yet manage to pass by under the radar, subtly advancing the plot as they go.
With this wonderfully restored Blu-ray release, there’s also a glutton of extras, some old, some new. Noteworthy bonus features are the making-of feature and the lookback on Fernando Di Leo’s work within the genre, and the particular highlight of the extra content sees Garth Marenghi’s Dark Places’ writer, Matthew Holness, discuss the history of the poliziotteschi genre in general.
Simply put, fans of stunningly-constructed cinema need to add Milano Calibro 9 to their collections at the earliest convenience. Equally, the same can be said for fans of fantastically-styled moustaches.
Special Features: ‘Calibro 9’ making-of / ‘Fernando Di Leo: The Genesis of the Genre’ documentary / Two featurettes / Trailers / Collector’s booklet
INFO: MILANO CALIBRO 9 / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: FERNANDO DI LEO / STARRING: GASTONE MOSCHIN, MARIO ADORF, BARBARA BOUCHET / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW