Milano calibro 9 [Caliber 9] (1972) June 19, 2019 08:00
Strap on your sidearm, light up your cigarette, slap around a few prostitutes, and be hypnotized by the writhing of Barbara Bouchet whose hips didn't lie long before Shakira came along. Caliber 9 is recognized by many as one of the classic Italian poliziotteschi (euro crime) films from Fernando Di Leo, one of the top directors and writers in the genre.
Caliber 9 is the first in what is referred to as Fernando Di Leo's Milieu Trilogy. Gastone Moschin is Ugo Piazza, fresh off a three year prison sentence after foiling a robbery. His old gang believes he got caught on purpose after allegedly stealing $300,000 in cash that went missing during a prior job, now the main boss, Americano, wants his money back and has his thugs hot on Ugo's tail the instant he's let out. Constantly harassed by both the police and sleazy Rocco Musco (Mario Adorf) Ugo maintains he never took the money and tries to regain some semblance of a normal life, but his old gang won't let it go.
Eventually Ugo is forced back into his old crime life by his old boss Americano, and put under the service of the loud mouth Rocco Musco. He tells his girlfriend, lounge club dancer Nelly Borden (Barbara Bouchet) the only way to get them off his back is to play along with them and eventually flush out who actually stole the money. But getting his job back isn't a pass on his "alleged" discrepancies but more of a way for them to keep a closer eye on him, in fact a few of Ugo's old friends quickly become entangled in Ugo's problems.
For those looking for a average entry level introduction into the euro crime genre Caliber 9 is a good place to start. With a respectable cast, catchy Italian soundtrack from progressive rock band Osanna, and a few well executed plot twists at the end it's a pretty decent film and one of the genre's more well known entries. For me though the film isn't amazing, while it has it's moments the story is pretty simple yet most of the film is comprised of a lot of repetitive talk, very little action and most of the characters (with the exception of Mario Adorf) are incredibly bland.
Once again (and I'm sure I'm sounding like a broken record by now) Barbara Bouchet steals the show and at the same time see's very little screen time. There's no denying her character's table top dancing introduction scene is essentially what this film is remembered for, along with a slew of promotional photos for the film that feature her nude, which ironically she never appears so in the film.
If it wasn't for the dancing scene and Mario Adorf's over-the-top performance Caliber 9 would be lost in the sea of Italian crime films and would likely be regarded as fairly boring. Simply watch Fernando Di Leo's second film in the trilogy, The Italian Connection, and witness the difference. With that said I don't think Caliber 9 is horrible, it's a decent beginning to Di Leo's trilogy and a fair representation of a standard run of the mill euro crime.