Moviedom is littered with unorthodox coppers. From the skirt-lifting Falcon to the psychotic Harry Callahan, from Sherlock Holmes to ageing-drunk Jack Regan, there is something about movie law enforcers that makes them much more eccentric than your average flatfoot (Dixon Of Dock Green not included). Nico Giraldi (Tomas Milian) is one such cop, a dirty, scruffy, mentally-unhinged predecessor to Hill Street Blues’ very own hobo-cop, Mick Belcher. In addition to his trademark blue jeans, he wears a multi-coloured tea-cosy on his head, two pairs of socks and three sweaters – even in bed – with matching long hair and two-week-old stubble, carries his ID card in his nasty, grotty Y-fronts and a mouse called Lieutenant Callahan in the pocket of his black bomber jacket. Despite being a government health risk, he seems to have no trouble placing beautiful women under his spell – or should that be “smell”. Formerly a crook known as Nico The Pirate, he’s now a motorcycle cop kicking ass for the anti-theft squad.
Japanese tourists are robbed whilst photographing some guy pulling a moonie for them. A guy stopped at traffic lights has his car window smashed and his bag pinched by crooks on motorcycles. More bad-boy bikers swipe a woman’s purse whilst she’s using it to beat-up a pervert and soon after, a dog makes off with another guy’s bag. Giraldi gets on the case. He (literally) rides his motorcycle into the local marketplace to apprehend one of these crooks and subsequently manages to destroy each and every stall as he pummels the thug into submission; after the crook is securely handcuffed, he begins whipping him with a string of garlic. Turns out this guy works for The Baron, a slippery character who always, thanks to his crooked doctor, manages to be lying in hospital when the crimes occur. The Baron may be a relatively big-time crook, but he is nothing compared to the Mafia, and becomes a mob target when his gang swipe the briefcase of an American diplomat (Jack Palance) – a briefcase containing five-million big-ones.
Like gung-ho cop movies, Cop in Blue Jeans is quite a light-hearted affair, due mainly to both Giralidi’s eccentricity and his no-nonsense approach to law-enforcement. When some small-time pick-pocket continually leaving 45 seconds-worth of “Up yours” messages on his answerphone, Giraldi goes on down to the Lazio game, beats the hell out of this ageing petty thief and then flushes his head down the toilet. After Callahan pisses in his coat pocket, Nico seems completely unperturbed: “I hate it when he does that,” is his only moan. When going undercover as a pimp in a night-club, he takes his new girl (Nightmare City’s Maria Rosaria Omaggio) along and begins slapping her across the face to provide an air of authenticity. Here, Geraldi also manages to make the acquaintance of a sleazy, neurotic – actually, quite deranged – homosexual (when later asked, “Where’s your little girlfriend?” he bawls, “He’s with another man tonight!”) and doesn’t even flinch when he begins, a little too tenderly (I ground my teeth right down to the gums watching this!), to stroke his exposed, hairy chest.
Despite a couple of gruelling scenes (a man being suffocated in a car full of exhaust fumes, a man being choked with a pool cue, and another having burning pitch chucked in his face), the violence in Cop in Blue Jeans is much more exciting than sadistic. The fight scenes are absolutely amazing, amazing to the point of complete absurdity, with each one becoming progressive more like a good old-fashioned wild-west bar-room brawl. Everything close by is, without exception, totally demolished and these fights nearly always involve Giraldi throwing somebody through a poorly constructed brick wall. Even more exciting are the high-octane motorbike chases that occur in the film – fantastic!
Italy – home of the Mafia, and creator of the some of the world’s greatest exploitation flicks. It’s little wonder that when the two combine, they produce something really special. It would be quite a while before Hong Kong became the world’s premier cop-shop. Cop in Blue Jeans was such a success at the time that it resulted in 10 sequels. And, by all accounts, these sequels tend to get better (and crazier – in one installment Giraldi keeps a horse in his house, another results in a Formula One car chase in the streets, yet another features Giraldi chasing a car on roller-skates… you get the picture) as the series continues – it’s just a real pity that these other films are nigh-on impossible to find in English these days. So now, I’ll just have to be happy with this. But with a movie as good as this, I think I can manage, for a while at least.
Italian director who worked in most genres over a forty year career, Corbucci is best known for the Nico Giraldi series of police thrillers, starring Tomas Milian and starting with 1976's Cop in Blue Jeans. Also wrote or co-wrote over 120 films, the most notable of which was Django, directed by his brother Sergio Corbucci.