Caliber 9

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.[4]

Caliber 9
Italian theatrical release poster by Renato Casaro[1]
Directed byFernando Di Leo
Produced byArmando Novelli[2]
Screenplay byFernando Di Leo[2]
Based onMilano calibro 9
by Giorgio Scerbanenco
Music byLuis Enríquez Bacalov[2]
CinematographyFranco Villa[2]
Edited byAmedeo Giomini[2]
Cineproduzioni Daunia '70[3]
Distributed byLia Film
Release date
  • 15 February 1972 (1972-02-15)
Box office₤754 million

Calibro 9 is the first part in Di Leo's Milieu Trilogy. The film was followed by The Italian Connection in 1972 and Il Boss (The Boss) in 1973.[5]


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.



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".[4]

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.[6] 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.[7]

The soundtrack for the film, Preludio Tema Variazioni e Canzona, is a collaboration album between Luis Enríquez Bacalov and the Italian progressive rock group Osanna.[8]


Caliber 9 was released in Italy on February 15, 1972 where it was distributed by Lia Film.[3] 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.[6] It grossed a total of 754,443,000 Italian lire on its theatrical run in Italy.[3]

The film was released on Blu-ray by Raro Video on February 22, 2011.[9] It was released again on Blu-ray and DVD by Arrow Video on June 16, 2015.[10]


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".[11]


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.[12]

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.[13][14][15]

See also


  1. "Milano calibro 9 - art by Renato Casaro!". Retrieved May 23, 2016.
  2. Credits (booklet). Arrow Video. 2015. p. 3. FCD929.
  3. Curti 2013, p. 52.
  4. Curti, Roberto (2015). Film Noir, Italian Style: Giorgio Scerbanenco, Fernando Di Leo and Milano Calibro 9 (booklet). Arrow Video. p. 10. FCD929.
  5. "Milano calibro 9 (Milan Calibre 9)". Tate Modern. Archived from the original on 24 December 2007. Retrieved 7 January 2007.
  6. Curti, Roberto (2015). Film Noir, Italian Style: Giorgio Scerbanenco, Fernando Di Leo and Milano Calibro 9 (booklet). Arrow Video. p. 20. FCD929.
  7. Curti, Roberto (2015). Film Noir, Italian Style: Giorgio Scerbanenco, Fernando Di Leo and Milano Calibro 9 (booklet). Arrow Video. p. 17. FCD929.
  8. "Osanna". ItalianProg. Retrieved 7 January 2007.
  9. "Caliber 9 Milano Calibro 9". Raro Video USA. Archived from the original on September 27, 2015. Retrieved September 19, 2015.
  10. "Milano Calibro 9". Arrow Films. Retrieved September 19, 2015.
  11. Raisbeck, John (1974). "Contract, The "(Milano Calibro 9)"". Monthly Film Bulletin. London. 41 (480): 11. ISSN 0027-0407.
  12. Curti 2013, p. 237.
  13. Youtube
  14. "Milano Kalibro Kobe". 29 February 2012. Archived from the original on 15 May 2015. Retrieved 15 June 2015.
  15. "Milano calibro Kobe. Bryant sbarca in tour in Italia". 23 September 2011.


  • Curti, Roberto (2013). Italian Crime Filmography, 1968-1980. McFarland. ISBN 0786469765.
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