Perhaps the one true film noir to emerge from Italy, Milano Calibro 9 is a gritty, ultra-violent masterpiece and an essential entry in the cannon of Italian crime cinema. Centering on the character of ex-con Ugo Piazza (played with stone-cold precision by Gastone Moschin) the film also benefits from the presence of giallo regular Barbara Bouchet and her considerable charms.
Released after a three-year term in prison for a bungled robbery, Ugo Piazza plans to lead the straight life for a while. But no sooner is he back on the street than he’s picked up by a bunch of hoodlums under the employ of his former boss, the ‘Americano’ – among them, the psychopathic Rocco – who are convinced that Ugo stole $300,000 before his incarceration. The gang forces Ugo to resume working for them in the hope that he’ll eventually lead them to their missing cash.
The first part in director Fernando Di Leo’s Milieu Trilogy, Milano Calibro 9 is an early example of the poliziotteschi – Italian crime films –which proliferated in the 1970s. Di Leo eschews the sleazy, more exploitative approach of some his contemporary filmmakers for a more serious take on his subject matter – although he’s not averse to show-stopping gun fights and long, lingering shots of the lovely Barbara Bouchet.
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