From Corleone To Brooklyn (1979)

Country: Italy
Director: Umberto Lenzi
Starring: Maurizio Merli, Van Johnson, Biagio Pelligra, Mario Erola
Music: Franco Micalizzi

From Corleone To Brooklyn is slightly different to most of Merli’s poliziotteschi – but not too much. Firstly he is still one tough cop, who’ll go to extreme lengths to stop crime dead in it’s tracks. He is still determined to see justice done. But in this film he get’s along with his superiors. He even jokes around with them, and in turn they back him up. And there is not one single tirade about the system protecting the criminals, and punishing the victims of crime. It’s only a subtle change to Merli’s usual screen persona, but one that presents a new slant to his character. He isn’t a loner. At times he may have to do the job on his own, but generally he has the support of his colleagues and friends.

From Corleone To Brooklyn opens in New York. Vito Fernando (Mario Merola ) has just moved out from Sicily. He is meeting a few old friends in a restaurant when two uniformed police officers enter and demand to see the newcomers passport. Fernando supplies his passport only to have the officer declare it a fake. A commotion in the restaurant allows Fernando to get away, much to the embarrassment of the officers involved.

Then we cut to Palermo. Lieutenant Berni (Maurizio Merli) is investigating the Mafia related killing of one of the local mob bosses, Salvatore Santoro. Santoro’s brother, Francesco is walking through the markets when two men with machine guns burst out of a delivery van and gun him down. The police were watching Francesco but were unable to stop the killing, but they pursue the delivery van as it tries to make a quick getaway.

During the pursuit, the police radio for back up, and soon, Berni and a whole battalion of police cars are on the narrow Palermo streets chasing the van. The chase ends up on foot, and as one of the perpetrators tries to get away, Merli proves he can still throw a decent punch.

Meanwhile the US police fax through the details of Vito Fernando hoping for some background information. Upon seeing the fax, Berni realises that Fernando is actually Barresi hiding out in the USA.

Misguided by his lawyer, Barresi voluntarily turns him to the police. He figures they do not know he is Baressi, and he has committed no crime in the U.S. Except for illegal entry. But Berni notifies them otherwise and convinces one of Barresi’s footsoldiers, Salvatore Scalia (Biagio Pelligra) to act as a witness against Barresi. That way he can be extradited back to Italy to stand trial.

But it isn’t as simple as that. Naturally Barresi doesn’t want to be extradited or stand trial so he arranges for every hood between Palermo and New York to kill Berni and Scalia. With every mob enforcer on their trail, Berni and Scalia’s trip is vigorous and fraught with danger.

This film is more atmospheric and less visceral than some of Merli’s earlier poliziotteschi films, and it is aided by a story that makes sense. It features investigative police work, rather than Merli simply being in the right place at the right time or beating up snitches for a scrap of information.

I enjoyed From Corleone To Brooklyn. It is more mature than some of Merli and director Umberto Lenzi’s other collaborations, but sadly this would be the last time they would work together.

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