Silent Action, 1975.
Directed by Sergio Martino.
Starring Luc Merenda, Mel Ferrer, Delia Boccardo, Delia Boccardo and Tomas Milian.
A series of murders made to look like suicides connected to the military leads a cop to suspect foul play.
A retired army Major dies after crashing his car into a tree, a Colonel is found in his office with a bullet from his own gun in his head and a General is decapitated after seemingly laying on the tracks and waiting for a train – whatever could it mean? It means that dogged detective Inspector Giorgio Solmi (Luc Merenda – Torso) is on the case and is suspicious that these aren’t the suicides they are being made to look like. Why does he think this? Because three high-ranking military officials dying in close succession is suspicious, of course, but when a master electrician is found dead in his villa Solmi’s suspicions are confirmed. How? Because it’s a 1970s Italian poliziotteschi and it doesn’t matter how – he just knows.
And correct he is because once he, his partner and a reporter start to delve deeper they enter a world of double-crosses, corruption and violence that doesn’t make much sense even when the final credits roll but no matter because by then you know you’ve had a good time watching it.
Fuelled by the growing political and social unrest in Italy at the time, and obviously inspired by big American cop thrillers such as Dirty Harry and The French Connection, poliziotteschi movies are the action equivalent of the giallo – a quick fix of a movie that ticks several boxes in order to get from A to B without too much plot getting in the way. Silent Action is no different in that it offers up mysterious deaths, handsome cops, corrupt bureaucrats, vulnerable women and absurd kills – that decapitation by train being a prime example – but in the hands of director Sergio Martino (Torso/The Mountain of the Cannibal God) it all feels a little tighter, slightly more polished and not quite as slapdash as some of the more ridiculous Eurocrime titles. The score – included in the package, which is a nice touch – echoes Morricone and adds a further dimension to the quality of the movie, especially the main theme which is one of the more memorable pieces of music from the genre.
It must be said, however, that poliziotteschi movies are pretty grubby and grimy on the whole and although Silent Action – which is an odd title considering it is quite noisy and the action plays second fiddle to the police procedural stuff – feels a little slicker in its production values it doesn’t really offer up anything you haven’t seen in your average American cop TV show (alright, apart from the decapitation). The plot being as twisty as it is means you have to pay attention to what is going on and who says what but given the somewhat tempered nature of most of the action you never get a ‘WOW!’ moment or something that makes you laugh, cry or emote out loud in any way out whatsoever – it’s enjoyable enough but not massively exciting when put up against the likes of the less polished and hugely silly (in a good way) Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man or the tense thrills of Almost Human.
This new Blu-ray edition of Silent Action is the first title to be released on new boutique label Fractured Visions and comes packed with extras. As well as the aforementioned soundtrack CD the disc also comes with an audio commentary by filmmaker Mike Malloy, the director of the Eurocrime! The Italian Cop and Gangster Films That Ruled the 70s documentary from a few years back, which is less about the film and more about Eurocrime in general but will prove to be helpful for newbies looking to expand their knowledge. There are also several archival interviews with cast and crew plus a featurette on Italy’s so-called ‘Years of Lead’, which details how the poliziotteschi came to prominence in the 1960s and how politics influenced Italian cinema during that time, and if you’re a Thomas Milian fan – and who isn’t? – then there is a short documentary about the man and his many fans within the industry.
A loaded package for a solid movie, the 2K scan isn’t the greatest but considering the original materials are probably not in the best condition then this is probably as good Silent Action is ever likely to look, even though the colour grading looks off in places and there are a few lines and marks that pop up here and there. Nevertheless, Silent Action is still a worthy addition for any budding collector with a growing poliziotteschi collection and Fractured Visions have ensured that there is enough supplementary material to give you a background on not just the film but the genre as a whole. The film itself does sit firmly in the middle of the Eurocrime output from the 1970s, being not too shabby nor overly exciting, and hopefully this release will herald the beginning of some new restorations of those gritty crime classics from the label. Bring it on!
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★