FEAR IN THE CITY (1976) BY Giuseppe Rosati


Alternative Titles: Paura in città, Hot Stuff, Street War, Cuerpo especial, Epikindynoi drapetes, La peur régne sir la ville
Director: Giuseppe Rosati
Writers: Giuseppe Pulieri
Year: 1976
Starring: Maurizio Merli; James Mason; Raymond Pellegrin; Silvia Dionisio

The day Lettieri, a tough gangster, and his accomplices, escape from prison they start to plunder, kill and rob. Only one man might solve the affair; the suspended Captain Murri, whose violent persecution of gangsters led to more deaths than convictions but only Murri can stop these gangsters and deliver the city from fear.

Released during the height of Euro-crime cinema, FEAR IN THE CITY is a loose, unofficial sequel to director Giuseppe Rosati’s LEFT HAND OF THE LAW (1975) – both scripted by Giuseppe Pulieri, however this film sees the blonde haired star Maurizio Merli step in for Leonard Mann, who had previously held the role of the lead, Inspector Murri.

Wasting no time we are immediately thrown into the action which manages to pack in a prison break, infidelity and a lot of violence against police informers in its brief time, perfectly representing a city and a nation that has lost control.

Out of this chaos comes Inspector Murri, now looking slightly different as, but fans of the genre will be pleased to hear that he portrays the Inspector in exactly the same way as every other vigilante cop character he has ever played, typifying the no-nonsense macho vigilante cop with a social conscious and cynical view on the justice system which he is known for thanks to films such as VIOLENT NAPLES and ROME: ARMED TO THE TEETH.

If Maurizio Merli was in stereotypical form then the same can be said for FEAR IN THE CITY, which knows exactly what is expected as it contrasts the conventional yet seemingly powerless representatives of the law with the unconventional yet effective Inspector Murri. 

More than just a legalised thug, Murri is given a bit of character depth and emotional involvement which is delivered through the use of flashbacks but sadly this is as deep as it gets as Giuseppe Rosati fails to extend this to the main antagonist as we never get a true sense of the man or his underlying motives. 

Additionally a sub-thread (I daren’t say narrative plot point) is woven into the film regarding a kidnapped convict, Masoni, who was due soon for release and his ‘lady-for-hire’ niece but again this is perhaps not explored as much as it could or should be.

Despite this there is plenty of action overall, with the genuine chase sequence being very well handled as Maurizio Merli and his wigged up stunt double give chase on the back of a bike over jumps and up stairs. While the character depth not going far enough the action certain delivers. Interestingly the film also manages to succeed with its use of humour as many scenes poke fun at the genre conventions for example the ill-mannered chief of police (James Mason) categorically stating he will not have Murri in his unit at any cost only to receive a call from the Commissioner and capitulate immediately. This sense of playfulness in the plot helps to provide some balance and a contrast the more explicit action.

Overall FEAR IN THE CITY however fails to reach the heights of the genres top tier due to its failure to really add any substance to the storyline or initial set up.

The weak linear narrative explains the scene transitions but do not give any weight to the actions nor does it encourage any emotional investment on the part of the viewer which is a real shame as it has the majority of the elements to make a strong film.

Despite this though there is a lot to recommend about FEAR IN THE CITY especially as a second tier level euro crime flick. Maurizio Merli is on top judo-chopping, gun toting form while the chase sequences and shoot outs are exciting and are guaranteed to entertain fans of the genre.6

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