Caliber 9 (Italian: Milano calibro 9) is a 1972 poliziottesco film written and directed by Fernando Di Leo and starring Gastone Moschin, Mario Adorf and Barbara Bouchet. The film takes its title from the short story collection of the same name by Giorgio Scerbanenco, and is partially based on three of its stories.
Italian theatrical release poster by Renato Casaro
|Directed by||Fernando Di Leo|
|Produced by||Armando Novelli|
|Screenplay by||Fernando Di Leo|
|Based on||Milano calibro 9|
by Giorgio Scerbanenco
|Music by||Luis Enríquez Bacalov|
|Edited by||Amedeo Giomini|
|Distributed by||Lia Film|
|Box office||₤754 million|
Small-time gangster Ugo Piazza (Gastone Moschin) is released from prison. He tries to convince the police, the mafia, his psychotic ex-friend Rocco (Mario Adorf) and his girlfriend Nelly Bordon (Barbara Bouchet) that he wants to go straight, but everyone believes he has $300,000 of stolen money hidden somewhere.
- Gastone Moschin as Ugo Piazza
- Barbara Bouchet as Nelly Bordon
- Mario Adorf as Rocco Musco
- Frank Wolff as Police Commissioner
- Luigi Pistilli as Deputy Commissioner Fonzino (Mercuri in the Italian dub)
- Ivo Garrani as Don Vincenzo
- Philippe Leroy as Chino
- Lionel Stander as "The Mikado" ("L'Americano" in Italian)
- Salvatore Aricò as Luca
- Ernesto Colli as Alfredo Bertolon
Caliber 9 was Di Leo's second film to be based on the works of writer Giorgio Scerbanenco, following Naked Violence (1969). According to film historian Roberto Curti, the director saw Scerbanenco's works as "groundbait", and believed that they shared similarly "bleak, disillusioned" worldviews, noting that the writer would have enjoyed the film's "terrible yet bitterly ironic game of appearances, coincidences and double-crosses which moves the story to its inevitable conclusion". Credited as being based on Scerbanenco's 1969 short story collection Milano calibro 9, the script is largely an original work, although it was partially influenced by three of the book's stories: its depiction of an exchange of two packages between a series of couriers, culminating in both packages simultaneously exploding upon reaching their final destination, is taken from "Stazione centrale ammazzare subito", while minor references are made to "Vietato essere felici" and "La vendetta è il miglior perdono".
The film's working title was Da lunedì a lunedì ("From Monday to Monday"), with the script indicating that title cards were to denote the time and day of each scene. Editor Amedeo Giomini revealed that while these title cards appeared on the film's workprint, they were not used on the theatrical prints. While discussing Caliber 9 years after its release, Di Leo regretted not deleting the scenes between Frank Wolff's right-wing Police Commissioner and his left-wing colleague Fonzino/Mercuri, played by Luigi Pistilli, believing that their inclusion hampered the film's pacing and diverged from its focus on the criminal characters.
Caliber 9 was released in Italy on February 15, 1972 where it was distributed by Lia Film. To qualify for a VM14 rating, the Italian film ratings board requested cuts to the scene in which Rocco tortures a courier with a razor, and the climactic sequence in which Rocco bludgeons Luca to death; Giomini felt that the censorship of the latter scene lessened its intended impact. It grossed a total of 754,443,000 Italian lire on its theatrical run in Italy.
From contemporary reviews, a 98-minute English-dub titled The Contract was reviewed by John Raisbeck of the Monthly Film Bulletin. Raisbeck stated that "after a briskly edited pre-credits sequence, [...] The Contract degenerates into a patchy gangster thriller". The review noted that the film "announces a number of themes-the crime syndicate's big business connections, the Melvillian respect shared by the two professionals Ugo and Chino-without developing any of them satisfactorily", and criticized Mario Adorf's portrayal of Rocco as "often verg[ing] on caricature".
Di Leo's later film Blood and Diamonds (1978) is considered by Curti to be a "reversal" of Caliber 9, with the relationships in the film being contrary to each other. Blood and Diamonds' working title was Roma calibro 9, and Barbara Bouchet plays similar roles in both films.
The film was referenced in Kobe Bryant's Nike Italia advertisement campaign short entitled "Milano Kalibro Kobe", and featured Italy international footballers Giampaolo Pazzini, Gennaro Gattuso, Alberto Aquilani, Claudio Marchisio and Marco Materazzi, Dutch international footballer Wesley Sneijder and Italian NBA star Marco Belinelli in parodies of the original characters. The commercial was directed by Enzo G. Castellari, who, like Di Leo, was a prominent director of poliziottesco films.
- "Milano calibro 9 - art by Renato Casaro!". www.emovieposter.com. Retrieved May 23, 2016.
- Credits (booklet). Arrow Video. 2015. p. 3. FCD929.
- Curti 2013, p. 52.
- Curti, Roberto (2015). Film Noir, Italian Style: Giorgio Scerbanenco, Fernando Di Leo and Milano Calibro 9 (booklet). Arrow Video. p. 10. FCD929.
- "Milano calibro 9 (Milan Calibre 9)". Tate Modern. Archived from the original on 24 December 2007. Retrieved 7 January 2007.
- Curti, Roberto (2015). Film Noir, Italian Style: Giorgio Scerbanenco, Fernando Di Leo and Milano Calibro 9 (booklet). Arrow Video. p. 20. FCD929.
- Curti, Roberto (2015). Film Noir, Italian Style: Giorgio Scerbanenco, Fernando Di Leo and Milano Calibro 9 (booklet). Arrow Video. p. 17. FCD929.
- "Osanna". ItalianProg. Retrieved 7 January 2007.
- "Caliber 9 Milano Calibro 9". Raro Video USA. Archived from the original on September 27, 2015. Retrieved September 19, 2015.
- "Milano Calibro 9". Arrow Films. Retrieved September 19, 2015.
- Raisbeck, John (1974). "Contract, The "(Milano Calibro 9)"". Monthly Film Bulletin. London. 41 (480): 11. ISSN 0027-0407.
- Curti 2013, p. 237.
- "Milano Kalibro Kobe". kobebryant.com. 29 February 2012. Archived from the original on 15 May 2015. Retrieved 15 June 2015.
- "Milano calibro Kobe. Bryant sbarca in tour in Italia". sport.sky.it. 23 September 2011.
- Curti, Roberto (2013). Italian Crime Filmography, 1968-1980. McFarland. ISBN 0786469765.