Luciano Ercoli started out as a producer in the 60's before directing his first feature, the masterful 1970 giallo (and one of my favorite films) La foto proibite di una signora per bene (Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion). Continuing on with two more more gialli, Ercoli directed 1971's La morte cammina con i tacchi alti (Death Walks in High Heels) and 1972's La morte accarezz a a mezzanotte (Death Walks at Midnight), all three of which star his wife Susan Scott (aka Nieves Navarro) and Simon Andreu and were co-written by Ernesto Gastaldi. Ercoli then directed two period films (under the pseudonym Andre Colbert) before ending his career with a trio of crime films, the action drama The Magnificent Dare Devil, this film and the comedic The Ripoff. La polizia ha le mani legate (translated as The Police Have Their Hands Tied and released in the U.S. as Killer Cop) is a film I spent a long time looking for. Very hard to find in the U.S. for years, I first read about the film after hearing the song "Papaya" on the Stelvio Cipriani CD compilation included with NoShame's out of print Luciano Ercoli Death DVD box set. I loved the song so much, I had to check out the film it was from. By the point I finally saw the film, I was already knee deep in poliziotteschi and this film was worth the wait.
Killer Cop stars Claudio Cassinelli as Rolandi, a detective for the drug squad. While trying to get information on a drug deal, Rolandi witnesses a fatal hotel bombing. After his friend and co-worker Luigi is killed, Rolandi seeks out the truth about the massacre, which he believes is tied to Luigi's death. The clues lead him to a drug addict who lost his glasses during the bombing, who may be the key to solving the murder. The District Attorney (Arthur Kennedy) on the case soon discovers Rolandi has been conducting his own investigation and forbids him to continue, however he won't give up until justice is served.
La polizia ha le mani legate followed the trend of other Italian crime films of its time by building its story around headlines plucked right out of the newspapers. The "Years of Lead", as they were known from the late '60s to the early '80s, was a time in Italy's history rife with bombings, assassinations and kidnappings due to social unrest and political bedlam. The influence of the times are apparent in this film and make it all that much more interesting and realistic. Though Ercoli made a film filled with violence, high speed chases and dramatic situations, Killer Cop isn't completely without any humor. Cassinelli's Rolandi, though completely dedicated to his job and not afraid to get into sticky situations, is also kind of bumbling but luckily never goes over the edge into parody. The rest of the cast are great, including Sara Sperati as the mysterious Papaya, Franco Fabrizi as the ill fated Luigi and Bruno Zanin as the confused lemming turned bomber. Stelvio Cipriani, who may be the quintessential Poliziotteschi composer, crafts his score to make it almost another character in the film. You will find yourself humming some of the themes long after the film is over. His song "Papaya" in this film is probably my favorite piece of film music of all time. Overall, Killer Cop is a prime example of the Polizio genre and would be a treat to most '70's gritty action film fans.
Fun Facts -
-The English language version of the film features narration by Jack Lemmon
-The bombing in this film is based on the 1969 Piazza Fontana bombing in Milan where 17 people were killed and 88 were injured.
-Killer Cop was released in various VHS editions.