Monday, 10 December 2012

Super Bitch (1973)

Super Bitch (Si può essere più bastardi dell'ispettore Cliff?) was a surprising foray in to the poliziotteschi genre by Massimo Dallamano. The genre was not really particularly suited to Dallamano’s style but he does manage to give this movie a few touches of his own.

The poliziotteschi flourished briefly in Italy during the 1970s, partly inspired by the success of Hollywood tough guy cop movies like Dirty Harry (1971) and The French Connection (1971). The chaos of Italy during the decade, with Red Brigades terrorists carrying out kidnappings and murders, also contributed to the popularity of a genre that showed the police fighting back (in a very violent way) against crime and terrorism.

The hero (or anti-hero) of Super Bitch is Inspector Cliff (Ivan Rassimov), an agent for the Federal Bureau of Narcotics in Washington. He is working undercover infiltrating a major heroin smuggling gang but it is obvious from the start that he is pursuing his own agenda as well.

The gang he has infiltrated is run by Morell (Ettore Manni), who runs an escort agency in London as a front. Several other gangs will figure in this movie, most notably that led by the colourful but deadly Mamma the Turk (Patricia Hayes) and her murderous children. Cliff’s method is to play off the gangs against each other. Joanne (Stephanie Beacham) works for Morell as an escort, as well as being his mistress, and she will play a key role in the movie.

Joanne is the Super Bitch of the English title (or at least one of the English titles - the movie was also released as Mafia Junction) but that gives a rather misleading idea of her character and of her importance to the plot. The focus is really on Cliff.

There are a bewildering number of double-crosses, with Cliff managing to have every criminal at every other criminal’s throat. The various gangs are happy enough to double-cross one another but they don’t realise they’re being double-crossed in turn by a cop. The movie, like most movies of this genre, is perhaps a bit too cynical for its own good.

There’s plenty of graphic violence and plenty of action. Like the 1970s American cop movies that influenced them the poliziotteschi are as much action movies as police movies.

Ivan Rassimov makes a very good morally ambiguous hero. Well actually he’s not that morally ambiguous - he’s really an evil SOB and probably psychotic. His big mistake is that he fails to realise that Joanne is actually in love with Morell. Cliff assumes that everyone is as cynical as he is and the idea that Joanne might be loyal to Morell (even while she’s having an affair with Cliff) doesn’t occur to him. The relationship between Joanne and Morell is the only honest relationship in the movie.

Patricia Hayes is delightfully over-the-top as Mamma the Turk. Mamma and her children, vicious thugs all of them, provide one of the movie’s more surreal touches with one of her children strumming a guitar and singing while the others carry out various acts of mayhem.

The sheer excessiveness of the movie and the bizarre touch added by Mamma the Turk makes this movie more of a surreal fantasy than a realistic cop movie. Dallamano of course would have had little interest in making a straightforward exercise in realism. Apart from the violence there’s a considerable helping of sex and nudity, as you’d expect in a 1970s European exploitation movie.

Arrow Films have done a fine job with their DVD release, giving us an excellent anamorphic transfer accompanied by a fascinating documentary on the poliziotteschi genre.

This is not one of my favourite genres but it is a Dallamano movie and it has enough of his signature style to make it worthwhile. It’s an entertaining roller coaster ride of violence and mayhem.

1 comment:

R Meyers obildade avkomma said...

Third picture from the film is really a delight. Best capture of the year... Only in cult movies from the 70's real angels appeared