Ennio Morricone comes to mind when people think Italian Genre films soundtracks of almost any kind. But when it comes to the Italian crime films known as poliziotteschi (even if Morricone and a few of his Italian colleagues also did their homework in that field) the king of the road is the lesser known (but highly talented) Franco Micalizzi.
Now, Death Waltz Recordings offers, for the first time on vinyl, a limited edition (only available through their Mondo web-store) of the original soundtracks for two poliziotteschi: Rome Armed to the Teeth (Roma a Mano Armata, 1976) and its follow up The Cynic, the Rat & the Fist (Il Cinico L’Infame Il Violento, 1977) both scored by Micalizzi for famous director Umberto Lenzi.
Lenzi might be mostly remembered for his infamous entries into the italian Horror genre but he made great stuff in other genres as well and his numerous poliziotteschi are among the finest the genre had to offer.
In both films, we follow the adventures of bad tempered inspector Tanzi, played by Maurizio Merli (with acting support from Arthur Kennedy and Ivan Rassimov in Roma and John Saxon and, Euro-genre favorite, Cuban actor Tomas Milian in Cynic).
For his poliziotteschi releases, Lenzi would mainly turn to Micalizzi for scoring duty. And the Micalizzi dirty cop stuff is just as good as it gets. Roma a Mano Armata and the sequel both share the same theme, a roaring and dynamic straight forward big band-like entry that makes full use of aggressive brass and funky bass right out of Afro-American music’s coolest outputs. The occasional strings and synths give that cinematic suspense sound that blend it all together. Some pieces are more on the ambient suspenseful side and put electronic machinery and electric piano to good use as well as these takes of flute bound to that era of euro film music also partially influenced by Brit Prog Rock.
You can also look for this very good compilation, Cinema a Mano Armata, that was edited on vinyl by Italian Label Dagored. It consists of great re-recordings (mainly for the genre) of Micalizzi’s work, a summary of his career with great new arrangements conducted by the maestro for his group, The Big Bubbling Band, with excerpts from various poliziotteschi, La Banda del Gobbo, Italia a Mano Armata and more, featuring his unique spacey grooves, jazz atmosphere and 70’s funk.
Nothing there to envy the great Lalo Shifrin classics, for their American counterpart, of the likes of Bullit (1968) and Dirty Harry (1971).
This is dynamite.