COLT .38 SPECIAL SQUAD (1976) Reviews and overview

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Colt 38 Special Squad is a 1976 Italian poliziottesco thriller film about a team of cops given more discretion to fight crime.

Directed by Massimo Dallamano (What Have They Done to Your Daughters?; Mafia Junction; What Have You Done to Solange?; Dorian Gray; Black Veil for Lisa) from a screenplay co-written with Franco Bottari, Marco Guglielmi and Ettore Sanzò. Produced by Paolo Infascelli.

The European Inc.-P.A.C. Produzioni Atlas Consorziate production stars Marcel Bozzuffi, Carole André, Ivan Rassimov and Riccardo Salvino.

The soundtrack score was composed by Stelvio Cipriani (The Bloodstained Shadow; Tentacles; What Have They Done to Your Daughters?; The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire; A Bay of Blood).


Turin, Italy mid-1970s. When his wife becomes the latest innocent victim of a merciless Marseilles crime lord (Ivan Rassimov), police captain Vanni (Marcel Bozzuffi) is given permission to form a secret special squad, each armed with an unlicensed .38 Colt Diamondback revolver.

As Vanni and his vigilante crew take back the night bullet by bullet, the Marseillaise joins the game by instigating a wave of dynamite-fuelled atrocities that turns the city into a war zone…


Colt 38 Special Squad is a great little film, populated with enjoyable and entertaining performances, and some of the finest stunt sequences to feature in a Euro-crime movie. The subversive tone is a great bonus, as is the ever-dependable musical contribution of Stelvio Cipriani.” The Celluloid Highway

Colt 38 Special Squad is ultimately a fairly minor work both in Dallamano‘s canon and when compared to the efforts of regular poliziesco directors like Castellari. It’s well-paced and at times exhilarating, and the excellent photography shows that a professional is behind the lens. It’s unremarkable, however…” The Digital Fix

“The physical atmosphere of this noir-inspired film is mirrored by and lends emotional effect to, the establishment of a dominant internal atmosphere. Physical debauchery symbolizes the deeply felt moral outrage. Despair bleeds from minds as much as they do from bullet-riddled corpses. In this Colt 38 Special Squad is an ideal marriage of sentiment/internal conflict and physical symbolism.” DVD Drive-In

“While this isn’t the most ingenious of storylines, it’s made completely plausible thanks to the two solid lead performances from Rassimov and Bozzuffi […] Some great car and motorcycle chases […] keep the action coming along at a good pace, while some gritty and violent shoot outs create a tense and gritty atmosphere that works well in the movie’s favor.” DVD Talk

” …surprisingly bereft of any real conflict beyond its initial setup, and the film is just largely uninvolving, with a few highlights here and there […] At its best, the movie is moderately entertaining, looks great, and has a truly astounding car chase during its finale, but apart from this, to put it frankly, Colt 38 Special Squad just ain’t that special.” International Walnut

” …Colt 38 Special Squad is let down by a muddled, disjointed script, which allows too much room to badly written characters such as Vanni’s right-hand man (Ricardo Salvino), and cannot find a balance between the action segments, with spectacular yet shallow showy stunts […] and the depiction of a vile and ruthless underworld that meticulously picks an era of fear, anger and despair.” Roberto Curti, Italian Crime Filmography, 1968 – 1980, McFarland, 2013

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“The film is a triumph of style over substance by default since it’s not exactly character-driven. Beyond the two principal antagonists, we learn that just about everyone else in the film is expendable as potential relationship storylines disintegrate before our eyes. This only adds to the horrific quality of this effort from a director perhaps best known for his giallo films.” Mondo 70

“The middle sags with plot, investigations, underworld schemes, and characters, but then the final thirty minutes slams on the accelerator again. Savage bombings, a car racing across the top of a moving train, sniper assassinations, and more mayhem that brings its cops-&-robbers battle to a breathless confrontational climax.” More Bad@ss

Cast and characters:

Marcel Bozzuffi … Inspector Vanni
Carole André … Sandra
Ivan Rassimov … Marsigliese / Black Angel
Riccardo Salvino … Nicola Silvestri
Giancarlo Bonuglia … Commissario Petrucci
Fabrizio Capucci … Cito
Francesco Ferracini … Franco Lubrano
Daniele Gabbai
Antonio Marsina … Guido Pugliese
Ezio Miani … Special Squad Cop
Giancarlo Sisti … Roland
Franco Garofalo … Gilbert Delange / Giampiero Manni
Eolo Capritti … Saro Nistri
Dino Emanuelli … Gianni Luciano (as Bernardino Emanuelli)
Armando Brancia … Questore
Grace Jones … Nightclub singer

Filming locations:

Cinestudi Dear, Rome, Italy
Turin, Italy

Technical details:

103 minutes
Technospes colour
Aspect ratio: 2.35: 1
Audio: Mono

Original title:

Quelli della Calibro 38 “Those with the Calibre 38”

Sad fact:

This was director Massimo Dallamano‘s last film as he died following a fatal car accident on 4th November 1976.

Colt 38 Special Squad was released by P.A.C. in Italy on July 24, 1976. It grossed a total of 1,285,707,500 Italian lire. The film’s success allowed it an in-name-only sequel Return of the .38 Gang

In the USA, NoShame Films released the film on DVD in 2006 – it is now out of print and only available via resellers.


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