DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

SHADOWS IN AN EMPTY ROOM (BLAZING MAGNUM) (A SPECIAL MAGNUM FOR TONY SAITTA) (director: Martin Herbert; screenwriters: Vincent Mann/ Frank Clark; cinematographer: Antony Ford; editor: Vincent P. Thomas; music: Armando Trovajoli; cast: Start Whitman (Capt. Tony Saitta), John Saxon (Ned Matthews), Martin Landau (Dr. George Tracer), Tisa Farrow (Julie Foster), Carole Laure (Louise Saitta), Jean Leclerc (Robert Tracer), Gayle Hunnicut (Margie Cohn); Runtime: 99; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Edmondo Amati; Fida Cinematografica; 1976-Italy/Canada/Panama-in French and English, with English subtitles if necessary)

"Stylishly impressive for a low-brow bloodbath pic."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Vividly directed by exploitation filmmaker Martin Herbert ("The Chosen"/"Blood Link"/"Miami Golem") and wickedly written as an action film, with no literary pretensions, by Vincent Mann and Frank Clark. It's a vulgar pic aimed for a mass audience who favor gore over narrative or character development. The low-budget film combines two styles used by the Italians for their thrillers: giallo and polizia thriller. Both styles effectively mesh together in this Dirty Harry type of film, which make it stylishly impressive for a low-brow bloodbath pic.

Hard-nosed Ottawa police captain Tony Saitta (Stuart Whitman) is enraged to learn his sister Louise (Carole Laure), a student at the university of Montreal, has been fatally poisoned. Louise just pulled a prank on Dr. George Tracer (Martin Landau), the boyfriend who just broke up with her. Then she dies in front of him. Tracer becomes the prime suspect.

Not sure Tracer is the killer, the captain goes to Montreal and teams with the Montreal police chief (John Saxon) to work on the case. The impatient captain resorts to brutal methods in his search, like hitting first and asking questions later. The Montreal chief just chauffeurs the visitor around town and points out to the audience what is happening in the investigation, turning a blind eye to police brutality.

Saitta hounds suspects, gets into a foolish fight with kung-fu trained transvestites he questions and has an unnecessary fistfight with security guards at a locker station. The captain, to his chagrin, learns his
sister was involved in the theft of a valuable string of pearls and that she had been hanging around with anti-social creeps and weirdos. One of them is Dr. Tracer's son (Jean Leclerc). At the film's midway point, the captain's involved in a chilling street car chase in the style of Steve McQueen in Bullitt, with a suspect taking off in a car and the captain on his tail despite risking the lives of innocent citizens on the road.

It ends in a wild scene with a helicopter used for the young killer to escape from a hospital roof, after taking hostages, but running out of luck as the captain is there to take him down with his 44-Magnum.

Tisi Farrow is noticeable as the blind waitress, the roommate of the captain's sister, who has a thing about always finding trouble.

REVIEWED ON 4/7/2016       GRADE: B

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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