John Charet’s Take On: Almost Human (1974)

Please note that the following may contain some spoilers so If you have not seen the film, I recommend not to continue reading from here.

Although some have implied that Almost Human ranks as the number one best poliziotteschi film ever, I am not too sure. Nevertheless, I do agree that it ranks as one of the many greatest ones. Almost Human (like many poliziotteschi entries made before and after it) may have been shot on a shoestring, but what it lacked in it’s budget, more than compensated with their truly gritty flavor.

In Milan, homicidal small-time thief Giulio Sacchi (Tomas Milian) aspires to get rich, so he hatches up a plan to kidnap the daughter (Laura Belli) of a wealthy businessman (Giudo Alberti). Using his girlfriend’s (Anita Strindberg) car as transportation, Sacchi then buys a bunch of guns from an old acquaintance (Pippa Starnazza). Simultaneously, Sacchi hires some hoods to execute the kidnapping. At first, Sacchi’s plan looks like a success, but as Inspector Walter Grandi (Henry Silva) and his team of cops begin to slowly put the pieces together, Sacchi loses his sanity and in the process, jeopardizes the lives of everyone around him.

I will not go any further with the plot from here, just watch for yourselves. As for Tomas Milian himself, he was robbed of an Oscar nomination for his electrifying performance here as the psychotic Giulio Sacchi. One minute he is quick-witted and then the next, suddenly incompetent. Speaking of the latter, check out the scenes featuring his mob boss Ugo Maione (Luciano Catenacci) beating the crap out of Sacchi for screwing up – can you really blame him? Perverted? Aside from the kidnapped girl, Sacchi rapes two women during that notorious home invasion sequence. Sadistic? Once again, read that last sentence. Murderous? He does not seem to mind killing his girlfriend, an old colleague or his own goons. Along with Malcolm McDowell’s Alex DeLarge in A Clockwork Orange, Milian’s Giulio Sacchi is truly bad to the bone. While not the scene-stealer that Milian is, veteran tough-guy actor Henry Silva offers excellent support as detective Walter Grandi, who credibly dishes out Dirty Harry Callahan-like justice.

* * * * (Out of * * * *) stars

Here is a youtube video link to what may be the film’s American trailer (released under the title The Death Dealer)

P.S. I also want to give a huge shout out to Steve (a fellow reader of this blog) for introducing me to this excellent film šŸ™‚ If any of you readers are interested in watching his videos (and I am one of them), click here to view his youtube channel – great stuff indeed šŸ™‚


9 thoughts on “John Charet’s Take On: Almost Human (1974)

  1. Great review! It really does the film justice. Almost Human is a great film which I highly recommend.
    Like many poliziotteschis it’s violent and sadistic but it’s a great film. It is very possibly the best poliziotteschi (Italian crime films of the 1970s).

    The direction by Umberto Lenzi is great and very effective. His directing style here (and in his other poliziotteschis) is energetic, vibrant, fast paced while being gritty with a level of style too. This is perfect for the film and really compliments Milian’s performance.

    Lenzi is a contender for the greatest director of poliziotteschi. It’s between him and Fernando DiLeo. They were the Sergio Leone and Sergio Corbucci of poliziotteschi. Although Lenzi is closer to Corbucci than Leone given the level of violence, sadism and craziness in his films.

    Almost Human has a great Ennio Morricone score which is perfect for the film. I believe this is the only polizotteschi that Morricone did the score for. That’s a sign that Almost Human was a superior entry in the poliziotteschi genre.

    This is Tomas Milian’s show without a doubt. He’s a really great actor and totally dominates the film. He is brilliant and unforgettable as Giulio Sacchi. He truly is a live wire. He gives a manic performance and is totally crazed as the psychotic and depraved criminal. He gives a portrayal of a violent, ruthless, cold blooded, ambitious criminal that would give even Al Pacino a run for his money. Milian considered Almost Human to be his best film and performance and it’s easy to see why.

    You’d need a great actor to play antagonist to Milian at his best and the film gets it in Henry Silva. He is also great as the cop adversary to Milian. His performance of the incorruptible cop is pitch perfect and is the right counter balance to Milian’s craziness.

    Overall Almost Human is a great film and I’m a big fan of it.

    As I said before I think your next review should be of Je T’aime Moi Non Plus. I would really like to read your review of that. I hope you can write that soon.

  2. Why thank you for the kind words Steve šŸ™‚ I would not be surprised If Almost Human ranked within the top 5 of the greatest poliziotteschi films ever made.

    From what I have seen so far from both Umberto Lenzi and Fernando DiLeo, I think your summing up of them as the “Sergio Corbucci of poliziotteschi” (the former) and the “Sergio Leone of poliziotteschi” (the latter) makes perfect sense.

    I too think that Ennio Morricone’s music score compliments Almost Human and one wonders If that is one reason why many claim it as the best poliziotteschi ever made? I consider it to be one of the many great ones and who knows, maybe it is the number one greatest poliziotteschi ever made.

    Undeniably, it is Tomas Milian, who dominates the entire film as you so eloquently state. I mean everything about Giulio Sacchi is unredeemable. For instance, he remains careless regarding the safety of that one child 5 minutes or into the movie. Given that even Milian has called this his greatest performance makes me think that I should join you in proclaiming Almost Human the number one best poliziotteschi ever made.

    Henry Silva provides an always welcome role – here, as a ethical detective, who proves that even in an environment powered by corruption and violence, not all is totally wrong with the world. That last shot of him getting revenge on Sacchi is evidence of that quality.

    Almost Human is undoubtedly one of the greatest poliziotteschi films ever made šŸ™‚

    As for Je T’aime Moi Non Plus, I shall write a review on that one next. I do not know If it will be this month, but If you do not see it on here during November or December, than I can guarantee January at the very least šŸ™‚

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