When businessman Mac Brown is assassinated on a busy New York street, there is only one man to head the investigation: Frank Berin. For the previous year Berin had conducted extensive inquiries into Berin’s business dealings, but had been unable to find incontrovertible evidence of any criminal activity or conspiracy. Unfortunately for Berin, Brown’s daughter Monica has put up a $250,000 reward for information on her father’s killer(s). Worse still, the killers always seem to be one step ahead of him...
Colpo Rovente is stylishly directed by
co-writer Piero Zuffi, with some particularly good use of mirror shots
and of (then) high-technology to heighten the sense of modernist
The film also benefits from smart deployment of New York and other US
locations, along with clever opportunism in some found moments of
spectacle, with Berin’s visiting Acapulco to follow up a lead inevitably
occurring during the Day of the Dead celebrations.
design, in what Tim Lucas has characterised as the Continental Op style,
nicely captures the contrasting milieus of their inhabitants – the
psychedelic hippie happenings; the criminal boardroom; the laboratory
replete with vials of brightly coloured liquids; the Greenwich Village
gay bar. Pierro Piccioni’s bold, brash crime-jazz score propels the
action along, as does the sharp editing by the incomparable Franco
In sum, even though the source of the fan-subbed AVI is cropped, with
some familiar names in the credits being somewhat chopped-off, the film
still looks good enough to convince that a digital restoration of the
original materials would be justified.
The main downside is that the narrative can be difficult to follow at
times, perhaps most notably when Berin goes undercover and infiltrates a
Hells Angels-type biker gang; aficionados of filone cinema will
recognise Ugo Fangareggi among their number. There is a justification
for this confusion, however, with the denouement also encouraging the
viewer to retrospectively re-evaluate a couple of scenes and some key
exchanges within them. It is the first of these, incidentally, that
seems to provide further explanation for the Red Hot Shot title.
[NB: Spoilers follow after the pictures]
A blade in the dark...
Black gloves and a gun...
There's a very good reason for the framing of this shot.
The press reports...
The media reacts...
The photofit #1
The photofit #2
Barbara Bouchet in her fancy penthouse
More a crime drama than a giallo perhaps, the film might be viewed as an
alternate configuration of Elio Petri’s Investigation of a Citizen
Above Suspicion. There we know that the titular investigator, the
right-wing police chief, is also the his mistress’s killer. By being so
obvious about it his culpability, however, he effectively conceals it.
Here we don’t know that Berin set events in motion by assassinating
Brown. When we learn this we might reconsider the identity parade and
photo-fit session, where Berin uses himself as one of the reference
points for the portrait of the murderer. Likewise, his brutality against
a Bud Spencer lookalike festooned with bad tattoos, comes to make more
Against this, though, we can also see that Berin has been responsible
for the deaths of some innocents – if, that is, the world depicted is
one where any innocents still exist, as certainly suggested the film’s
conflation of business and crime, along with the closing scene of
hippies over which are projected images from the film itself and culled
from the news. This would also tie in with the importance of drugs to
the narrative, even if the effects of LSD and heroin sometimes seem
All-told, gripping, stylish and provocative. And the always-welcome
Barbara Bouchet. And, for those with less mainstream tastes, an
appearance by experimental film-maker and all-round renaissance man
Carmelo Bene as her reviled husband.