I’m just a guy posting stuff to this goofy blog. Due to certain legal judgments I’m no longer allowed to use my real name so, inspired by Italian crime film legend Maurizio Merli, I chose the name Tanzi.
Inspector Leonardo Tanzi was the main character in two poliziotteschi films, Roma a mano armata and Il cinico, l’infame, il violento. Inspector Tanzi was sort of a Dirty Harry clone who looked like Ron Burgundy and maybe had a dash of unintentional Frank Drebbin in the mix. He wasn’t a particularly original character, Merli played basically the same cop with different names in countless other films, but the two Tanzi movies stand out due to Umberto Lenzi’s direction, Franco Micalizzi’s driving theme songs, and the always welcome opening credit of e con la partecipazione Tomas Milian, without a doubt the most charismatic and entertaining actor in 70’s Italian cinema.
Roma a mano armata finds our hero Inspector Tanzi butting heads with a criminal justice system intent on coddling criminals by oferring things like due process and legal representation. He arrests two young punks for purse snatching while on a scooter, only to find them released when his girlfriend, a police psychologist, feels sorry for the youths after hearing their sob story about coming from broken homes. “If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s cynicism” Tanzi proclaims, “especially among our young people.” Tanzi is an idealist, a man who sees the world in black and white. When the two thieves are later killed in an accident after another purse snatching, Tanzi decides it’s time to start ignoring the rules. Much mayhem ensues, including Tanzi kicking a hunchbacked Tomas Milian in the testicoli:
That’s followed by smashing a rapist’s head through a pinball machine, extended car chases and a brutal bank robberry. It all culminates in Milian going apeshit with a machine gun in a desperate bid to escape. During the final extended chase sequence Milian commandeers an ambulance and guns down the innocent old man taking his wife to the hospital:
Roma a mano armata is good but Il cinico, l’infame, il violento is better. In this one Tanzi has been forced to go into hiding for kicking too much ass. Of course the bad guys eventually catch up with him so Tanzi is fakes his own death and leaves Rome. While he’s out of town he finds time to bed a whore after beating up her pimp. He also displays some truly amazing chest hair:
But our man Tanzi can’t stay out of the action; he sneaks back to Rome and once again starts cracking heads. He soon uncovers the man behind the recent Roman crime wave: Tomas Milian, this time in a larger role as “The Chinaman” and sporting an unexplained bandage on his forehead. Milian is joined by our old favorite John Saxon as American gangster Frank Di Maggio, looking to move in on The Chinaman’s Rome territory. The two forge an uneasy alliance but once Tanzi gets wind of it he starts stirring the fudge, setting the two mobsters against each other. What follows is just as crazed as Roma a mano armata, with frenzied car chases, gunfights and an extended cat burglar sequence as Tanzi pulls off a heist to set Saxon and Milian against each other. There’s probably slightly less action in this one but more character stuff, including a great scene where Milian shows how he deals with tough talking guys who think they can get away without paying protection:
Both Roma a mano armata and Il cinico, l’infame, il violento are terrific entrees into the world of poliziotteschi cinema. Unfortunately they can be a bit difficult to track down on DVD, although it is possible to find copies online if you look hard enough.