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  Fearless Fuzz Merli makes 'em laugh
Year: 1978
Director: Stelvio Massi
Stars: Maurizio Merli, Joan Collins, Werner Procath, Gaston Moschin, Franco Ressel, Annarita Grapputo, Alexander Trojan, Massimo Vanni, Luciana Turina, Andrea Scotti, Heidi Gutruf
Genre: Comedy, Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: After an heroic intervention in the attempted kidnapping of the French ambassador’s daughter, Italian private detective Wally Spada (Maurizio Merli) is tasked with tracking down Annalise von Straben (Annarita Grapputo), the missing daughter of a wealthy and influential Austrian businessman. He soon traces the hippie heiress to the Hari Krishna cult where she has been hiding. Determined to bag his big payout, Wally spurns Annalise’s offer of sex in exchange for her freedom, but subsequently sees her abducted by mobsters led by the sinister Strauss (Werner Procath). Trailing them to Vienna, Wally partners with Karl (Gaston Moschin), an avuncular Austrian detective whose agency is far better organized, and is drawn into yet another mystery involving the death of a schoolgirl. Although officially ruled a traffic accident, the girl’s mother believes she was murdered. Wally investigates and discovers the two cases are connected and involve the ambiguous activities of glamorous nightclub stripper, Brigitte (Joan Collins).

Just as every clown has a desire to play Hamlet, it seems many an action hero longs to do comedy. Poliziotto senza paura a.k.a. Fearless Fuzz a.k.a. Magnum Cop a.k.a. Fatal Charm, a.k.a. frankly a lot of things marked such an opportunity for macho moustachioed poliziotteschi icon Maurizio Merli, although the humour proves wildly out of place given the subject matter. Fans more accustomed to seeing Merli bash bad guys to a bloody pulp in such uncompromising cop thrillers as Violent Naples (1976) and Rome Armed to the Teeth (1976) must instead contend with the star sporting a silly name, goofing around in ridiculous dungarees, going bug-eyed over various ample-bosomed ladies and - gasp! - getting his ass kicked in every encounter. Elsewhere, caught between her softcore notoriety with The Stud (1978) and Eighties television stardom via frightful soap opera Dynasty, Joan Collins brings little beyond a very faint glint of glamour to her role as a would-be femme fatale.

In what seems like a misconceived homage to Raymond Chandler, underscored by the poster for Farewell, My Lovely (1975) that adorns movie fan Wally’s living room alongside one for John Huston’s The Mackintosh Man (1973), the plot is unnecessarily complex whilst the sleazy milieu further undermines the already heavy-handed attempts at humour of action specialist Stelvio Massi. That is unless you find the spectacle of Merli stumbling upon a grotesquely fat woman having sex hilarious. As if acknowledging its own failings as a comedic pastiche, the film’s tone gradually darkens and eventually shifts gears into a straight thriller. Just as well given the core conspiracy involves the rape, prostitution and murder of thirteen year old girls clearly isn’t the least bit funny.

However, the unpalatable combination of reactionary politics with cynical humour leaves this rather confused. The film feigns moral outrage over the exploitation of underage girls yet musters more empathy for a child molester and a murderer than the innocent victims they casually bump off. Whichever way you look at it, Wally Spada proves a pathetic example of a hero. His actions succeed only in getting people killed while the villains elude justice and exit by their own hand. All of which combines to make the jokey coda look alarmingly callous. The eclectic electronica of Stelvio Cipriani proves the film’s sole redeeming feature.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

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