A Policewoman in New York


Aka La poliziotta a New York
Original running length: 91 mins
A Nuova Dania Cinematografica production
Director: Michele Massimo Tarantini
Story: Luciano Martino, Francesco Milizia
Screenplay: Jean Louis, Francesco Milizia, Alberto Silvestri, Michele Massimo Tarantini
Cinematography: Giancarlo Ferrando
Music: Berto Pisano
Editor: Alberto Moriani
Cast: Edwige Fenech (Gianna Amicucci), Alvaro Vitali (Alvaro Tarallo), Giacomo Rizzo (the turk), Edith Peters (Mamie, Pupa’s maid), Enzo Andronico (dialogue coach), Galliano Sbarra (Gianna’s father), Fidel Bauna (Gideon), Jacques Stany (the commissioner), Renzo Montagnani (Maccarone), Aldo Maccione (Big John), Ennio Antonelli (Gianna’s friend), Paolo Merosi (a mafioso), Lina Franchi (hospital patient)
Uncredited: Giovanni Cianfriglia (one of Big John’s men)

Another in the series of Italian films released by the apparently barmy MYA label – quite who do they think their market is for this stuff! – A Policewoman in New York is a 1981 sex comedy starring Euro-exploitation favourite Edwige Fenech.   It was actually the third and final entry in a popular series of Italian films featuring Fenech as a feisty female cop called Gianna, all of which were directed by Michele Massimo Tarantini and produced by Luciano Martino (the preceding entries being La poliziotta fa carriera (75) and La poliziotta della squadra del buon costume (79)). There was also an earlier film, La poliziotta, which featured Mariangela Melato as a feisty female cop called Giovanna, but this had absolutely no connection to the series whatsoever… beyond being an ‘inspiration’ to Martino and Tarantini, of course.

FBI agent Maccarone (Renzo Montagnani) is on the trail of a New York pizzeria owner and suspected major-league criminal called Big John (Aldo Maccione), and he comes up with a cunning scheme to get his man.  After liaising with his associates in the Italian police force, he discovers a couple of Roman coppers, Gianna (Edwige Fenech) and Alvaro (Alvaro Vitali), who just happen to be the exact doubles of Big John’s main squeeze and deadly bodyguard.  And if they can be ‘swapped’, Gianna and Alvaro should be able to gather all the evidence needed to put him away for a long period of time.  The only problem with his foolproof plan is that Gianna and Alvaro turn out to be two of the dizziest cops in the whole of Italy, and just about everything they become involved with turns into chaos.

Nonetheless, they’re soon firmly ensconced in place, and nobody seems to suspect a thing. The only problem is that Big John has just become embroiled in an escalating turf war with a rival gangster, the Turk (Giacomo Rizzo), who has issued orders that Big John and Joe should be killed at all costs.  And, surprise, surprise, it doesn’t take long for the Turk to develop a considerable crush on Gianna as well.

For a silly Italian sex comedy, this isn’t too bad.  Gianna was one of the genre’s most popular characters, and it’s not hard to see why: as a policewoman, she has plentiful opportunity to dress up in outrageous costumes, beat up inadequate men and play the temptress to possible suspects by showing a bit of leg.  Of course, it’s still entirely predictable, extremely dumb and full of people gesticulating and shouting wildly, but the dialogue isn’t bad, the characters are entertaining and the performances are pretty good.  As always, a lot of the slapstick falls flat – or, a more generous interpretation, doesn’t translate particularly well – but some of it is mildly amusing and there are a couple of running gags that provide some politically incorrect laughs (especially Alvaro having to fend off his double’s big, black boyfriend).

Renzo Montagnani and Edwige Fenech in A POLICEWOMAN IN NEW YORK
Renzo Montagnani and Edwige Fenech in A POLICEWOMAN IN NEW YORK

From a technical perspective, it’s nothing special, but at the same time it’s not a complete mess.  By this time Tarantini was a master of the genre, and in fact he seemed more at home doing this kind of stuff than straight, action based movies like Napoli si rubella (77) and Poliziotti violenti (76).  Although the production values aren’t high – they do stretch to a couple of location sequences shot in New York, but not a great deal more – it does look a little more filmic than some of it’s type, and there’s even a car chase thrown in for good measure.  However, the pacing does drop off and it all runs rather out of steam in the last half hour, mainly due to the story and humour becoming rather repetitious (again, not unusual for the genre).  Furthermore, considering this is supposed to be a sexy comedy, it’s all surprisingly chaste; there’s not even much of the nudge, nudge, wink, wink type nonsense that usually powers these things, and at no point does Gianna actually become involved in any kind of sexual activity beyond a kiss.

I guess at this point Ms Fenech was such a star that she didn’t really need to exploit her physique as much as she had done even when she was making thrillers in the early 70s.  And she’s very good too; even, apparently, doing her own stunts.  There are also some neat supporting turns from the likes of Edith Peters (a former singer) as Pupa’s ballsy maid – who sounds suspiciously as though she was actually dubbed by a man on the English language print – and a stuttering, idiotic Giacomo Rizzo, who seems to be trying to be Terry-Thomas.

About Matt Blake 889 Articles
The WildEye is a blog dedicated to the wild world of Italian cinema (and, ok, sometimes I digress into discussing films from other countries as well). Peplums, comedies, dramas, spaghetti westerns... they're all covered here.

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