The plot: (which has some similarities with a later Franco Nero vehicle Day of the Cobra / Il giorno del Cobra) an Italian-American ex-cop-turned-private-eye arrives in Genoa to investigate a murder only to find both the police and the gangs after him.
The cast: I loved Tony Lo Bianco in God Told Me To and he shines in this film, he is a joy to watch and his charisma helps lift some of the more clichéd talky episodes above the trite. Lo Bianco clearly mouthes his lines in Italian in his scenes with Adolfo Celi. One of my favourites, Howard Ross is playing the baddie (the Frenchman)
Genova a Mano Armata (known is France as L'homme sans pitié) is the embodiment of what I seek from genre cinema: it’s so raw and entertaining that I can easily overlook the fact that the story is trite and totally incoherent. The Italian-language copy that’s currently floating around seems assembled from a number of fragments of different aspect ratio. Scenes spontaneously dissolve into one another, there are jump cuts and the print itself is pretty worn out.
Watching Genova a Mano Armata won’t be the same when they put it out re-mastered with scenes restored and some boring extras. I won’t be able to love it as a sleazy, surreal experience with audio dropouts and battered reels and bleeding colours and scenes spliced out of order anymore the same way as I love, say, Giallo a Venezia.
The film takes a few minutes to get into with its butchered charm and nouvelle vague-style jump cuts but Lo Bianco is easy to warm to and you soon find yourself rooting for his charming hero during his misadventures on the seedy streets of Genoa. As far as polizieschi go, Genova a Mano Armata is on the lighter side, akin to I Padroni Della Citta / Mr Scarface and La Banda del Gobbo / Brothers Till We Die.
The fights are great, filmed with a hand-held camera, which, while shaky, is never as annoying as in the modern action films.
Genova a Mano Armata has that special something that transcends mere continuity and quality writing.
My relationship with the poliziesco films has been a difficult one as early experiences were underwhelming. However, I later learned that the poliziesco is very general term and the films in this genre can be very different. Recently I had the pleasure of seeing a number of polizieschi which I hugely enjoyed. And GENOVA affirms my love for this unique genre.