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Tuesday, June 08, 2010

DVD Review: Without Trace

Without Trace (aka ...A Tutte Le Auto Della Polizia)

Italy 1975
Director: Mario Caiano
Writers: Fabio Pittorru & Massimo Felisatti
Starring: Antonio Sabato, Luciana Paluzzi, Enrico Maria Salerno, Gabriele Ferzetti, Elio Zamuto.
DVD Released: April 27th 2010
Cert: NR
Running Time: 99 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Audio: Dolby Digital Mono Italian
Subtitles: English
Distributor: Mya Communication
Region: 0 NTSC

The Film:

A bunch of filthy rich snobs relax around the massive swimming pool at the palatial estate of Professore Andrea Icardi as his precocious teenage daughter Carla strips down to her undies and takes a dip, to the delight of quite a few of the male onlookers. Yup she's a bit of a Lolita this one, no sooner has she finished teasing her father's friends than she's sneaking off after school for an illicit hook up with...well who knows? Coming home late Professore Icardi finds that his daughter still hasn't returned home and after checking around it's soon apparent she's missing 'Without Trace'. Better call in the local coppers then, led by 70's Italian Burt-Reynolds-a-like Antonio Sabato as Commissario Fernando Solmi; a loose cannon cop who lives on the edge and doesn't play by the rules. As you'd imagine Solmi isn't particularly fond of the upper class and especially doesn't like the inequality shown by the massive police mobilisation to find the (probably just runaway) daughter of a rich bloke. However when Carla's body is discovered in a lake, weighted down with her Vespa (nice!) it's not long before Solmi's getting too close to the case (probably because of his wife's unexplained briefly mentioned death) and verbally showering his contempt for perverts and hustlers at anyone within earshot. Especially that bloke running the skeezy bordello full of underage girls where Carla's schoolfriends all seem to work! With the evidence building via tyre tracks, bullet casings, a suspicious packet of Benson & Hedges and the testimony of a sweaty peeping tom that witnessed Carla's final moments the cops get ever closer to nailing their target which leads the diabolical villain to start killing all those that know anything about him in a desperate and bloody attempt to evade capture.

For it's first hour or so this is a steadily entertaining Italian police procedural flick (or poliziotteschi as this particular sub-genre might be classified). Despite it's 70's trappings and obligatory occasional flashes of full frontal female nudity it's held up well over the years. It even features an eerily familiar forensics lab scene; funky music plays as various white-coated geeks look through microscopes and process evidence - CSI Lazio anyone? Seemingly unable to hold this dramatic tension any longer however the film reverts to Giallo-tinged black gloved throat slitting's and garroting in it's final act which pretty much spurts arterial blood all over it's carefully built up storyline and rushes things to an action packed car chase of a conclusion that leaves you feeling somewhat let-down. The reveal of the killer is well handled however and surprisingly (for this genre) he turns out not to be a complete nut job but an almost sympathetic character. Another in the line of "schoolgirl gialli" then that were so popular round about this time (thanks to Massimo Dallamano and the likes of What Have You Done To Solange and What Have They Done to Your Daughters?, etc) - films that usually managed to be hypocritically moralistic as well as sexually exploitative. To be fair though this one is far less sleazy than it could be and all the better for it. The film also benefits greatly from an excellent turn by Sabato as the hard-nosed cop and the criminally underused ex-Bond girl Gabriele Ferzetti as his partner! Oh and the film's original Italian title A Tutte Le Auto Della Polizi (Calling All Police Cars) is a far more fitting one than Without Trace really given the nature of the plot.

The Disc:

Very nice anamorphic transfer, colours look well saturated and the image is clean and well detailed overall. Audio is the original Italian mono with optional English subtitles, it's a clean and clear track. More like this please Mya!

An odd but entertaining combination of Italian 70's hard-boiled cop flick and serial killer slasher movie!

Review by Giuseppe Rijitano

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