Thursday, 24 February 2011
Celentano does a heist: SUPER RAPINA A MILANO (1964)
Members of the Celentano Clan rob a bank in the middle of Milan. Their valises full of money, the gang escape via a helicopter, leaving an armed dummy to guard the hostages. The robbers later land in the countryside, dress up as monks and occupy a recently abandoned monastery, intending to lie low for a while till the heat is off. Predictably, things don't go quite as planned. Celentano's former buddy-come Police inspector is after them. One of the Clan members decides to split, only to return shortly in the company of some armed bandits, a machine-gun-toting Ivan Rassimov (billed here as Ivan Rassimovich!) among them. The final act sees the monastery become a battle ground, phoney monks trying to save the real ones and and not to lose their money to the attackers.
Direction of SUPER RAPINA A MILANO is credited to the star, Adriano Celentano. The IMDb, however, states that the film was actually directed by Piero Vivarelli, while the actor/singer simply received the on-screen credit. Celentano is a surprisingly confident lead. Not a properly trained actor, he exudes energy and is obviously enjoying himself throughout. Music by Detto Mariano (MIAMI GOLEM) is highly effective, rendering some scenes of this farcical film unusually dramatic. During the shoot-out, Gino Santercole is trying to get the gunman up on the bell-tower. After wasting a few rounds, he succeeds. The man plunges down. But before he hits the ground, Gino puts another bullet through him! Intentional or not, this moment of excess is one of the most hilarious in the whole film.
Gino Santercole went on to appear in Lenzi's nasty MILANO ODIA: LA POLIZIA NON PUO SPARARE while Don Backy essayed a part of Blade in Mario Bava's excellent CANI ARRABIATI. But these violent films would come much later, in the 70's. SUPER RAPINA A MILANO is from 1964, so things are fairly light-hearted and the whole armed robbery subject is viewed rather romantically. There is some blatant moralizing courtesy of Celentano, when Celentano-actor switches on the TV and sees Celentano-singer performing. The viewer is then treated to a blessedly brief monologue on the existence of legal ways of getting prosperous.
As one expects from vintage Italian cinema, the Cinemascope camerawork is frequently mobile and highly inventive. There's no DoP credit on the print, but Giancarlo Ferrando was the camera operator. The over-the-top ending relies on a dodgy twist to spare the sympathetic robbers an inevitable term behind bars. SUPER RAPINA A MILANO is an excellent light-hearted 60's picture full of endearing eccentricity which makes European comedy so special.