Super Fuzz (Poliziotto superpiù) [DVD]
Director : Sergio Corbucci
Screenplay : Sabatino Ciuffini and Sergio Corbucci
MPAA Rating : PG
Year of Release : 1980
Stars : Terence Hill (Dave Speed), Ernest Borgnine (Willy Dunlop), Joanne Dru (Rosy Labouche), Marc Lawrence (Torpedo), Julie Gordon (Evelyn), Lee Sandman (McEnroy), Sal Borgese (Paradise Alley), Woody Woodbury (NASA Major), Herb Goldstein (Silvius)
Since the 1950s, the economic and artistic intersection of American and various European film industries has produced a number of important coproductions that have become lasting and influential classics of world cinema, including Jean-Luc Godard’s Contempt (1963), Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blowup (1966), and Bernardo Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris (1972) and The Last Emperor (1987). It has also produced films like Sergio Corbucci’s Italian-Spanish-U.S. coproduction Super Fuzz (a.k.a., Super Snooper), which is a sort of classic in its own right, at least to those who grew up with HBO in the early 1980s and saw this cornball movie on regular rotation.
In fact, before proceeding further, I will have to admit that my critical faculties are somewhat compromised in that I was one of those kids who saw Super Fuzz over and over again, usually in isolated fragments whenever I turned on the TV. Therefore, like other cherished cult relics of the early ’80s cable era like The Beastmaster (1982), The Pirate Movie (1982), and Grease 2 (1982), which are all arguably bad movies in descending order of defensibility, Super Fuzz tends to short-circuit my critical acumen, rendering it virtually useless through an onslaught of whimsical nostalgia. Part of my brain informs me that, without doubt, Super Fuzz is an almost embarrassingly bad movie; but, another part--the part that hasn’t ever stopped being a 9-year-old--sighs in geeky delight at its absurdity.
Super Fuzz tells the story of Dave Speed (Terence Hill), a bright-eyed rookie cop in Miami who is caught in atomic fallout from a NASA experiment and develops superpowers that are defined only in terms of what the screenplay needs him to do at any given moment. Hence, he can run as fast a car, float in the air, fall out of a 20-story window and survive, see through walls, move objects with his mind, make people disappear, catch bullets in his mouth, breathe underwater, and, in one of the movie’s most egregiously silly moments, converse with fish. The only problem with Dave’s powers is that they disappear whenever he sees the color red, which it takes him nearly the entire movie to figure out.
Dave is partnered with Willy Dunlop (Ernest Borgnine, clearly slumming), a lovably loud-mouthed blowhard who is constantly berating Dave for claiming to have superpowers. The required romantic interest is supplied by Willy’s niece, Evelyn (Julie Gordon), and the villain comes in the form of a counterfeit money-running gangster named Torpedo (Marc Lawrence, who looks at bit like George Burns if he sold his soul to the devil). There is also an old-fashioned Hollywood diva named Rosy Labouche (Joanne Dru) who is in cahoots with Torpedo and with whom Willy is utterly smitten.
Super Fuzz, however, is not about its plot; rather, it’s about its tone, which is insistently silly, although it’s hard to tell if the filmmakers are completely in on the joke. The outrageousness of the movie’s most memorable sequences, including Dave and Willy floating on a giant balloon made of bubble-gum (there’s a superpower I forgot to list earlier!) or Dave short-circuiting an electric chair after what had to have been the world’s fastest murder trial and sentencing, suggests that screenwriters Sabatino Ciuffini and Sergio Corbucci (who also directed) are fully aware of just how bad their enterprise is. At the same time, though, there are little flourishes that play as pure, unintended camp hilarity, like the endlessly repeated choral refrain of “Supah, Sup-aaaaaaaaah” from the movie’s maddeningly infectious pop theme song whenever Dave performs a superfeat.
The overall oddness of Super Fuzz partially derives from its being a mostly European production set in the United States. Thus, although Dave is supposed to be an innocuous American cop, he speaks with a soft Italian accent (Terence Hill, the Italian actor who plays him, is a pleasant-looking poor man’s Franco Nero who is best known for his comedic pairings with the brutish Italian actor Bud Spencer). To try to make Dave more “American,” whenever he is out of uniform he dresses in Wranglers, a denim shirt, and a too-small cowboy hat--basically a European’s bad stereotype of what all Americans look like.
Director Sergio Corbucci, who first made a name for himself in the 1960s directing brutal spaghetti Westerns like the original Django (1966), doesn’t help matters with his slapdash direction and use of tired comedic devices like Three Stooges-style slapstick and sped-up motion. He’s clearly aiming for a live-action cartoon, but he didn’t have the budget or the finesse to pull it off. What it all amounts to is a mess of a movie, and one that I am in no way ready to defend as anything more than borderline watchable cheese ... unless, of course, you were a child reared by HBO in the early ’80s. Then it’s a masterpiece.
|Super Fuzz DVD|
|Release Date||February 27, 2007|
|VIDEO & AUDIO|
|Thanks to the folks at Sommerville House, for the first time Super Fuzz is available on DVD in a widescreen transfer that is, for a movie of this sort, pretty darn good. The image is framed at 1.78:1, although the opening credits are framed at 1.66:1, which, given that this is a primarily European production, makes me think that is the proper aspect ratio (plus there are also a few scenes that look tight around the top and bottom). The image is relatively clean, with little in the way of dirt or scratches, and the colors are pleasantly vibrant. The two-channel Dolby Digital soundtrack is also clean and perfectly serviceable, albeit exceptionally loud. There are also alternate Spanish and French tracks (both of which are about half the volume of the English track), but no Italian track, which is odd given that Super Fuzz is primarily an Italian production.|
|Oh, what I would give for a screen-specific audio commentary reuniting Terence Hill and Ernest Borgnine, but I guess Hill was too busy headlining the long-running Italian television drama Don Matteo and Borgnine was too busy doing whatever it is Borgnine does these days. Thus, we are stuck with little more than a slideshow of Germany lobby cards (under the title Der Supercop) that plays along with the movie’s theme song; biographies of Terence Hill, Ernest Borgnine, and Sergio Corbucci; four trailers for other comedies starring Terence Hill, but not one for Super Fuzz; and some random slapstick clips from four Terence Hill-Bud Spencer comedies. While the new transfer makes this disc worth purchasing for hard-core Super Fuzz fanatics (and I know you’re out there), the lack of any Special Edition-worthy supplements is admittedly disappointing.|
Copyright ©2007 James Kendrick
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