Written by: Michael Den Boer on January 27th, 2006
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, February 15th, 1972
Director: Fernando Di Leo
Writer: Fernando Di Leo
Cast: Gastone Moschin, Barbara Bouchet, Mario Adorf, Frank Wolff, Luigi Pistilli
DVD Released: 2004
Approximate Running Time: 97 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English, Dolby Digital Mono Italian
DVD Release: Raro Video
Region Coding: Region 0 PAL (Italy)
Retail Price: $31.95
Synopsis: Just released from prison Ugo Piazza (Gastone Moschin) is abducted by some thugs who work for his former employer Americano. They beat the living hell out of Ugo in hopes that he will tell them where the $300,000 that he stole before going in prison is hidden. After a few beatings Ugo still refuses to tell them anything so the Americano offers him a job to keep him close.
Milan Calibre 9 is the first in a trilogy of films followed by Manhunt and The Boss. Even though Milano Calibre 9 wasn’t one of the first Italian crime films its lasting impact is undeniable as it the tone and style for all Italian crime films that followed it. The Italians have long been known to borrow from American cinema. There are many instances while watching when one naturally thinks of Francis Ford Coppola The Godfather a film which came out a month after Milano Calibre 9.
The films opening money exchange sequence is breath talking in its execution as the package is handed from one person to the next. This scene like the rest of the film is greatly benefited by Luis Enríquez Bacalov’s score. This film is filled with a superb cast of colorful characters with the character Rocco Musco played by Mario Adorf being the one that stands out the most as he nearly steals the whole show with his maniacal over the top portrayal of a Mafioso. One has to wonder if Martian Scorsese ever saw Milano Calibre 9 because Joe Pesci’s Tommy DeVito performance in Goodfellas bears a strong resemblance to the Rocco Musco in Milano Calibre 9. Casting Gastone Moschin in the role of Ugo Piazza the main character in the film at first appears to be an odd choice. His performance is subtle and it grows on you as the film progresses.
Several other Euro-cult regulars appear in this film including Barbara Bouchet, Frank Wolff, Luigi Pistilli, Philippe Leroy and Lionel Stander. Most of these roles are minor characters in the film with Barbara Bouchet adding her usual eye candy as a stripper. Overall the acting in this film is first rate. The action is fast and furious and the violence is brutal and bloody. Fernando Di Leo’s direction is pitch perfect as every frame and moment unfolds effortlessly into the next. There are a few interesting plot twists along the way that lead up to an ending that is truly unforgettable. Overall Milano Calibre 9 is one the best examples the Italian crime genre has to offer.
Raro Video presents Milano Calibre 9 in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The colors look vivid and flesh tones look healthy. Black levels are solid as there is an exceptional amount of detail present in every frame. Outside of some noticeable grain the used print for this transfer is nearly flawless.
This release comes with two audio options Italian and English language tracks. Both audio tracks are presented in a Dolby Digital mono. The dialog is razor sharp and the music and effects sound evenly balanced. There are no problems with distortion or any of audio defects. English subtitles that are easy to read and follow have been included.
Extras for this release include a photo gallery with commentary by star Moschin, liner notes and a text biography and filmography for Di Leo. Other extras include twenty eight minute featurette about Milano Calibre 9 which includes interviews with Franco Lo Cascio, Fernando Di Leo, Maurizio Colombo, Luca Crovi, Andrea G. Pinketts, Armando Novelli, Amedeo Giomini, Philippe Leroy, Barbara Bouchet and Luis Enríquez Bacalov. More extras include a thirty seven minute documentary about “Fernando Di Leo” which includes interviews with Nino Castelnuovo, Gianni Garko, Amedeo Giomini, Pierpaolo Capponi, Luc Merenda, Franco Villa, Barbara Bouchet, Dagmar Lassander, Howard Ross, Jenny Tamburi, Gianluca Curti and Fernando Di Leo. Rounding out the extras is a twenty five minute featurette about the film noir/ Italian crime films which includes interviews with Andrea G. Pinketts, Gianni Canova, Maurizio Colombo, Luca Crovi and Lamberto Bava. Raro has assembled an impressive release that is loaded with informative and insightful extras which include comments form most of the cast and crew of Milano Calibre 9. Unfortunately all the extras for this release are in Italian only and no English subtitles or text translations have been provided.
Despite the lack of English friendly subtitles for the extras Raro’s Milano Calibre 9 is a must have purchase if you are a fan of the Italian crime genre, highly recommended.