AW Kautzer's Home Video Home Video/Streaming

Blu-Ray Review: Raro Video’s Caliber 9 (Collector’s Edition) 

caliber 9

Director Fernando Di Leo’s Caliber 9 is one of the best of the Italian Crime Wave films of the 1970s. Raro Video has brought a new 4K Restoration to Blu-Ray

The Film 

Fernando Di Leo as a writer/director has made some of the best Italian Crime Films of the 1970s.  This puts his filmography in contention with some of the greatest filmmakers Italian and non-Italian that worked in the crime genre in the 1970s.  Caliber 9 is one of his very best.  Cynical and Icy without any remorse for being so, Di Leo’s film isn’t about honor amongst thieves and the brotherhood of police but the opposite.  The vacuum of morals makes the film electrifying in a way few films are.  

Ugo Piazza (Gastone Moschin) has just been released from prison.  Without no time the low-level goon is being blamed for a $300,000 money drop gone wrong.  The crime family (for which he served time for) believes he did it.  The cops believe he did it.  Hell, even his ex-girlfriend thinks he did it.  As everyone applies their form of pressure on Ugo – he remains as he always does unwavering and coolly refuting guilt.  

Caliber 9 is a tightly constructed tale of double-triple-quadruple crosses and the understanding that there isn’t honor amongst any group or fraternity.  Di Leo’s film is coolly and wholly detached not siding with anyone.  Rather Caliber 9 shows us the infighting, the bickering, and the egos of all these men and women.  All acting purely on id and nothing more.  The result is a film that twists and turns and ties its characters into knots.  Everyone is dirty in this world.  No one can be trusted.  

Caliber 9 feels like the spiritual grandfather to the equally cynical and brilliant Gomorrah. Much like that Matteo Garrone’s masterpiece, Caliber 9, shows us a world with no exits, no escape plans, and no way out other than death.  As with the latter, Di Leo’s film is a brilliant piece of caustic crime fiction that you won’t soon forget.  

The Transfer

The restoration of Milano Calibro 9 was carried out in 2022 by the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia – Cineteca Nazionale from the negatives made available by Minerva Pictures. To reconstruct the version desired by the director, the title cards were reintegrated, recovered from a copy conserved in the archives of the Cineteca Nazionale.

Raro video’s Blu-Ray edition of Caliber 9 is nothing short of stunning.  The only way one could have something more revelatory is by upgrading this to a 4K UHD title.  The transfer is colorfully vibrant without any defects or artifacting.  The image is beautifully representative of the 35mm origins of the film with a wonderful patina of active grain giving it that specific filmic look that all the best Blu-Ray discs have.  Bravo to Raro and Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia – Cineteca Nazionale for such a masterful restoration.  

The Extras

They include the following; 

  • Audio commentary by film historian Rachael Nisbet
  • Alternate English audio track
  • Documentary on the making of Caliber 9
  • Fernando Di Leo: The Genesis of the Genre
  • Documentary: Scerbanenco Noir
  • Photo Gallery with audio commentary by Gastone Moschin
  • Trailer

The Audio commentary by film historian Rachael Nisbet opens with her credentials and her purpose with the track.  Some of the details include the various filmmakers that were influenced by the movie; a Di Leo cameo at the beginning of the film; the various differences in the script and the film as it was executed; the work of novelist Giorgio Scerbaenco and his novel the film is adapted by Di Leo from; a discussion about the time frames of the production; a discussion of the work and personal history of Gastone Moschin; a discussion of the work and personal history of Barbara Bouchet; Quentin Tarantino’s love for the film; the score by Luis Enríquez Bacalov and Italian Rock Group Osanna; the action scenes and how they were produced; a great throughline discussion of Di Leo’s visual style that he employs and themes; throughout the commentary track includes various pieces of information and career history of the various actors and behind the scenes crew; and much more. 

Documentary on the making of Caliber 9 (29:41) – this archival making-of documentary covers everything you’d want to know about making the film.  The 30-minute making-of featurette is constructed from behind-the-scenes photos from the production, talking heads, and scenes from the film.  The produced result is a great account of how the film was developed and produced, the problems during the production and post-production, and the release and influence of the film.  Comments by director Di Leo, critic Maurizio Colombo, critic Luca Croni, writer Andrea G. Pinketts, producer Armando Vocelli; editor Amedeo Giomini, actor Philippe Leroy, actor Gastone Moschin, actor Barbara Bouchet, and more.  Italian with English subtitles.  

Fernando Di Leo: The Genesis of the Genre (38:33) – Di Leo begins this interview with his origins as a writer taking a course and eventually his work in Italian Cinema specifically writing the films A Gun for Ringo, A Fistful of Dollars, Blood at Sundown, For a Few Dollars More – and how that spurned a more prominent career as a director and eventually create the some of the best Italian Crime Thrillers – and by that account some of the best Crime Thrillers the world over – he is often known for.  The interview covers not just Di Leo’s films; but his personal life; the art, politics, and personal history that inspired his films; the themes of his films; and much more.  The interview is intercut with scenes from his films, behind-the-scenes photos.  Comments by director Di Leo, actor Nino Castelnuovo, actor Gianni Garko, editor Amedeo Giomini, actor Luc Merenda, and more. Italian with English subtitles.  

Documentary: Scerbanenco Noir (26:10) –this featurette looks at novelist Giorgio Scerbanenco and his influence on crime fiction beyond the use of his work by Di Leo in Caliber 9.  The featurette is a fascinating look at the authenticity, style, and art the novelist brought to the genre during his time writing – including discussions of his major works. Comments by writer Andrea G. Pinketts, screenwriter Gianni Canova, screenwriter Maurizio Colombo, and others.  Italian with English Subtitles.  

Photo Gallery with audio commentary by Gastone Moschin (3:27) – Not so much a commentary as a brief phone interview with star Gastone Moschin by David Pulici.  They discuss Moschin’s work in comedies until the part in Caliber 9; his gratitude that Di Leo took a chance on him, a discussion of the ending – including an anecdote; and working with Di Leo and the various actors, and more – while various production photos, ads, and poster art play.  Italian with English subtitles.

Trailer [English] (3:14)  

Trailer [Italian] (3:17) 

The Final Thought 

Caliber 9 is an undisputed masterpiece of Italian Crime Cinema.  Raro has treated it as such with this Blu-ray edition.  HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATIONS!!

Raro Video’s Blu-Ray edition of Caliber 9 is out now

%d bloggers like this: