SILENT ACTION (1975) Reviews and UK Blu-ray release news

 

Silent Action is a 1975 Italian poliziotteschi crime thriller about a number of suspicious deaths that lead a determined police inspector to uncover a planned coup.

Directed by Sergio Martino (The Mountain of the Cannibal God; Suspicious Death of a Minor; Torso; All the Colors of the Dark) from a screenplay co-written with producer Gianfranco Couyoumdjian, Massimo Felisatti and Fabio Pittorru, based on a story by Felisatti and Pittorru.

The Dania Film-Flora Film-Medusa Distribution production stars Luc Merenda (Tough to Kill; Deadly Chase; A Man Called Magnum; Nick the Sting), Mel Ferrer (The Great Alligator; The Antichrist; Blood and Roses), Delia Boccardo, Michele Gammino and Paola Tedesco.

The soundtrack score was composed by Luciano Michelini (American Rickshaw; Isle of the Fish Men; Suspicious Death of a Minor; Gambling City).

Blu-ray release:

In the UK, Fractured Visions released Silent Action on Blu-ray on April 12th 2021,

2K Restoration from the Original Camera Negative
Original Italian Mono Audio with newly translated English subtitles
Newly Remastered English Mono Audio
Audio Commentary with Tough-guy film expert Mike Malloy
The Age of Lead: 1970s Italy
Directing the Strategy: A interview with Director Sergio Martino
Luc Unleashed: A interview with Actor Luc Merenda
Sergio and I: A interview with Composer Luciano Michelini
Archival interview with Luc Merenda
Archival featurette: The Milian Connection
Collector’s Edition Slipcase
Original Soundtrack CD
Special Collector’s Booklet with new essays by Eugenio Eroclani and Francesco Massaccesi

Order direct via the Fractured Visions website

Plot:

Three top army generals are murdered in ways to make it appear as if they committed suicide. Following the poker-to-the-head murder of a suspiciously wealthy electrician at his villa, police inspector Giorgio Solmi (Luc Merenda) and his team investigate. They deduce that the dead man’s last visitor was a young woman with black hair who seems to have been a call girl.

Following a visit to a supposedly retired “madam,” they discover that the call girl is named Giuliana Raimondi. Arriving at her gas-filled apartment they are shocked to find that she has apparently slit her wrists. Later, in the hospital, she is informed that she is the prime suspect in the electrician’s murder. Initially denying it, and obviously facing prison, she then claims that she was responsible for the homicide. Solmi also discovers the dead electrician was also a blackmailing private investigator.

A flashback reveals that Giuliana Raimondi did not murder the electrician/private investigator but she did see the male assassin’s face before she managed to flee the scene. Meanwhile, a man named Ortolani (Carlo Alighiero) is apprehended after having broken into the villa where the fatal crime took place. He was trying to steal some tape recordings which Solmi subsequently listens to. A plot, possibly involving one of the dead generals is revealed but when the tape is played by District Attorney Mannino (Mel Ferrer) it has been mysteriously erased which suggests that there is a traitor within the police department itself…

[May contain spoilers] Review:

Silent Action opens stridently with a montage of grisly murders, most notably a beheading by a train that causes fake blood to gush over the camera and, by definition, right into the viewer’s face. The subsequent police investigations move swiftly and become more and more labyrinthine to the point where careful attention must be paid to avoid missing character connected plot intricacies.

Having proven himself a director able to deliver both mystery and kinetic energy in first-rate gialli such as The Strange Vice of Mrs Wardh and The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail,  Sergio Martino showed he was no less adept at filming hard-hitting action scenes in The Violent Professionals (1973), which also features Luc Merenda as an unorthodox cop.

In Silent Action the lengthy car chase – with excellent use of low angle hand-held cameras – and the helicopter raid are undoubtedly the stand-out sequences. Luc Merenda is coolly solid as the lead and there is a wry interplay between his character and Tomas Milian’s. Delia Boccardo’s journalist character provides the love interest and a very handy clue, some might say too conveniently available, to the conspiracy but her role hardly stands out. More notable is Paola Tedesco as a fiery-eyed prostitute who survives one murder attempt and escapes a subsequent kidnapping with a certain aplomb.

The addition of a political angle in this movie, which was based upon a real-life 1970 failed coup attempt and possibly influenced by Stefano Vanzina’s Execution Squad (1972), adds depth to the standard poliziottesco plot and the ensuing intrigue and cynicism is part and parcel of Italian cinema of the era; part of what makes it so agreeable.

Plus, the film is not without some welcome touches of minor dark humour amidst the carnage, such as the appearance of a poncho-wearing undercover cop in a nod to spaghetti westerns, or the banter during the brothel visit. On a minor point, the camera remains curiously coy during this cathouse questioning. In most 1970s Italian movies, such as Martino’s own Torso, the opportunity to dwell on female flesh is always usually taken.

The newly-released Fractured Visions Blu-ray comes with a slew of extras. The audio commentary by Mike Malloy, director of the excellent documentary Eurocrime! The Italian Cop and Gangster Films That Ruled the ’70s is relaxed and entertaining even if he does cheekily plugs his own books and movie projects! Rather than focusing just on Silent Action, Malloy gives an overall personalised view of the entire Poliziotteschi genre and how its fandom developed. It’s fun and fascinating stuff, especially if you were aware of, or even bought, some of the dodgy grey area suppliers such as Video Search of Miami that used to make these movies available back in the days of VHS and DVD-Rs.

A 55-minute documentary ‘The Age of Lead: 1970s Italy’ provides background about the social and political turmoil that Italians experienced during this period, marked by waves of both far-left and far-right incidents of political terrorism. Academic in tone it may not be to everyone’s tastes but is undoubtedly vital to any understanding of how the popular crime genre developed against a background of far-left and far-right atrocities. It’s the highlight of the extras.

‘Directing the Strategy’ is a 13-minute lively interview with fast-talker Sergio Martino that focuses on “vulnerable” and sometimes volatile actor Tomas Milian, American stars Mel Ferrer and Glenn Ford and whether the crime films were as “reactionary” as some critics claimed. He reckons that The Violent Professionals was never intended to be reactionary even if Luc Merenda’s character does mercilessly shoot the villains in the end.

‘Luc Unleashed’ is a 19-minute interview with French actor Luc Merenda, who has maintained his good looks and a keen sense of humour. He enthuses about working with Sergio Martino whom he never saw get angry on set and asserts that the director’s films have a “flow” to them that isn’t present in most of the other movies the actor worked on. He also discusses the slightly fraught working relationship with Tomas Milian but says this wasn’t his doing. He has nothing but respect and praise for Mel Ferrer but utter disdain for “dickhead” Donald Trump who is “nothing but a liar.” The archival Merenda interview, in which he discusses some of the dangerous stuntwork during the helicopter raid, is equally entertaining despite its inferior visual quality.

The Luciano Michelini interview, ‘Sergio and I’ is splendid. A genial raconteur, humble composer Michelini runs through his life in music and reveals his inspiration for some of the pieces he wrote for Silent Action. He speaks fondly of many other composers and the much-loved vocalist and musician Edda Dell’Orso and “genius” Ennio Morricone in particular. The soundtrack CD is a great addition and even if Luciano Michelini’s score isn’t initially as bombastic as some composed for the better-known poliziotteschi pics it certainly has enough Morricone-inspired jaunty melodies, such as the one that accompanies the car chase, to inspire repeated listens.

Archival featurette ‘The Milian Connection’ runs a lengthy 50-minutes but will probably only really be appreciated by devout fans of the actor.

Finally, it’s worth watching Silent Action with both the Italian audio and English subtitles (for the truly authentic experience) option, plus the English dubbed version. Dubbing was an art form in itself in 1970s Italy and the subtle changes and nuances that were required to fit the dialogue to mouth movements are a pleasure to enjoy in themselves. This Blu-ray release from newcomers Fractured Visions is most welcome and comes highly recommended.

Adrian J Smith, MOVIES and MANIA

Other reviews:

Silent Action doesn’t feature a lot of action, but when it happens it is definitely memorable, with a crazy car chase and a helicopter attack being the highlights. It is also always good to see Mel Ferrer onscreen, who plays District Attorney Mannino in this. The narrative does occasionally get bogged down in a few too many details…” 60 Minutes With

“Martino’s visual flair and quick editing style keep us entertained; multiple car chases and a deafening helicopter assault on a paramilitary camp high up in the mountains are thrilling, and there’s a stylish montage sequence shortly before the close.” The Arts Desk

” …Silent Action is a fine example of the genre. It hardly breaks any new ground but with a healthy mix of intrigue, thrills and action it’s compulsive viewing from start to finish. Fast-paced, nicely shot and occasionally quite brutal (the shot of a man getting run over by a train at the start will knock you for six), it’s well worth a watch.” Blueprint: Review

“Perfect for Poliziotteschi obsessives or anyone with an eye for Italian action movies Silent Action is a hard-hitting and extremely entertaining movie that proves films from any time period can still pack one hell of a punch.” Love Horror

“Despite the dangerous bee’s nest he’s poking, Solmi never really feels like he’s in much peril. Conversely, the aforementioned scene involving the prostitute is the film’s most tense sequence, as we genuinely fear for her […] Yet while Silent Action is never quite as gripping as it might have been, it’s an entertaining distillation of everything that was occurring in both Italy’s cinema and its politics in the ’70s…” The Movie Waffler

Silent Action’s combination of cheesy retrograde tone and enjoyable action sequences lands the film very much in the cult enjoyment camp. It certainly won’t be for the masses, that Solmi fights to protect. However, it is happy to show that it’s got guts. The film’s defeatist final moments highlight its desires to take its surface conversations further.” Set the Tape

Silent Action is a gripping, gritty, and quite nihilistic action film. There are some spectacular set pieces, and the opening montage is something else […] The movie is shot beautifully by Giancarlo Ferrando, but he suitably manages to keep an element of grit to the proceedings.” Starburst


Cast and characters:

Luc Merenda … Inspector Giorgio Solmi
Mel Ferrer … District Attorney Mannino
Delia Boccardo … Maria
Michele Gammino … Lt. Luigi Caprara
Paola Tedesco … Giuliana Raimondi aka la Tunisina
Franco Giornelli … Franz Schmidt
Gianfranco Barra … De Luca
Carlo Alighiero … Remo Ortolani
Claudio Gora … Martinetti
Claudio Nicastro … Prison Warden
Antonio Casale … Giovanni Andreassi – aka Massù
Giovanni Di Benedetto … General Stocchi (as Gianni De Benedetto)
Tomas Milian … Captain Mario Sperli
Arturo Dominici … Chief of police
Carlo Gaddi … Massù’s friend
Giancarlo Badessi … Vittorio Chiarotti
Clara Colosimo … Baronessa Grimani
Tom Felleghy … Colonel Scanni (as Tommaso Felleghi)
Cesare Di Vito … Investigator at crime scene
Loredana Nusciak … Mrs Martinetti (uncredited)
Goffredo Unger … Getaway Driver (uncredited)
Sergio Martino … Chopper Pilot (uncredited)

Technical details:

98 minutes
Aspect ratio: 2.35: 1
Audio: Mono

Alternate titles:

La polizia accusa: il servizio segreto uccide “The Police Accuse: The Secret Service Kill” (original Italian title)
Chopper Squad
I Accuse

Fun facts:

Slow-motion footage of a black Citroen car sliding into a tree was re-used from Sergio Martino’s Milano trema: la polizia vuole giustizia aka The Violent Professionals (1973)

Trailer:

YouTube review:

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