My dad thought that Tomas Milian was 3rd in his list of film heroes. He loved Eastwood’s mastery, adored Franco Nero casual cool but idolised Milian’s fuck you approach to the man. I did not like him when I was younger. I remember seeing TEPEPA and being annoyed at his swaggering ignorance. Often me and my dad differed on what we liked and how we respected. He hated John Wayne, saying that he was a racist moron. I see that Wayne was two things. The ignorant man and the arrogant star. However as I get older, I find that I am drawn to Milian approach to life and the screen art. His style was to be indifferent. Sometimes he is just unconcerned by the fact he was in a film. He is easy. He is relaxed. He is magnetic.

In Italy, it is not a crime without a crusader. When the critically ill daughter of a well off family is kidnapped by thugs, Inspector Sarti (Claudio Cassinelli) is forced to bend the rules to breaking point. He needs the eyes and ears of  Garbage Can (Milian), a scum bag with connections everywhere. Problem is that he is in prison and so must be broken out. Once out, he returns to the criminal underworld and onto the trial of the kidnappers. When it is discovered that the only way to save the girl, is by catching the infamous Brescianelli (Henry Silva), it is a problem. He is the crime boss behind many a murder and many more kidnappings. Will they find him before he kills the girl or worse, them?

Umberto Lenzi name slips around the mouth for me. I know most of his films that flip flop around genre like the best Italian directors of the period. For many a film fan though, his long list of films are often split between two camps. The first, talk of his trilogy of Giallo’s (not his westerns or his sword and sandal films). These are actually not great. Then the other camp talk of his later films, or as put, Cops and Cannibals. These underpinned the Italian exploitation hits of the 1980s. FREE HAND FOR A TOUGH COP was in the middle of this but it was not the go to for many. Even after seeing a lot of the police films of the period, I did not get to see it until the later 2000s. This meant I saw Milian’s ‘Garbage Can’ prior to him being established as such.

Now the later films like THE CYNIC, THE RAT AND THE FIST delve into the chemistry between Milian and Cassinelli but FREE HAND gives us a rare feel to the proceedings. It also gives us something fresher. Milian’s legendary ‘Monnezza’ (A.K.A Garbage Can) is human and not just a recycle jokes factory or smart arse. Not only this but  Fractured Visions have given us a really good release to enjoy. The 2K restoration aside (sadly it only seems to clean up the light suppression of the standard release and absolves the horrid darkened images at the end), everything here is top drawer. The interviews are new, conversations spring up on the films making and Lenzi as a director. Mike Martinez commentary engages the left side of the brain with extensive points on the genre, the actors, the motifs and the rationale of the films. So even the hardened and informed, get something out of it. Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson double team again for a pretty good commentary that is more Milian and Lenzi but explore everything valued for those wanting something more!

Special Features

  • 2K Restoration from the Original Camera Negative
  • Original Italian Mono Audio with newly translated English subtitles
  • English Mono Audio
  • Cops and Robbers: An Interview with Nino Celeste
  • No Small Roles: An Interview with Corrado Solari
  • Producing Mayhem: An Interview with Ugo Tucci
  • Portrait of a Daughter: An Interview with Alessandra Lenzi
  • Audio Commentary with Euro Crime producer Mike Martinez
  • Audio Commentary with Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson
  • Trailer

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