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Super Fuzz (1980)

There are lots of reasons to watch a movie, and nostalgia is just as good as any of them. Super Fuzz is a movie that was made when I was 6 years old, and first aired on TV in the US when I was 8. I also distinctly remember it as one of the very first films I ever rented, around the age of 10. At that time, I had no idea the original title is Poliziotto superpiù, that this was an Italian production filmed in Miami, or that the star was an Italian actor with the pseudonym of Terence Hill. Watching the film again now is not only a nostalgic experience, but also a good experiment in testing how we remember films seen years ago.

The title refers to Dave Speed, an eager rookie cop who is sent  to the swamps of southern Florida to deliver a summons over an unpaid parking ticket. The area is deserted, as all the residents have been evacuated due to a NASA rocket launch test. When Speed fires his pistol into the air as a warning shot to an alligator who has taken over his canoe, he accidentally brings the rocket down in a massive red explosion. Although presumed dead, Speed survives. He soon discovers that he has superpowers, although it takes him a while to learn that seeing the color red makes him loose his powers. A subplot involves a fading film star, Rosy Labouche, who is the object of a crush held by Speed’s partner and superior officer (Ernest Borgnine). Rosy is the mistress of Torpedo, a gangster who is using a fishing boat as a front for counterfeiting money, all in one-dollar bills, and smuggling it ashore sewn into the bellies of fish. When Torpedo’s goons try to rub out the Sarge, Officer Speed is speed is mistakenly charged, escapes execution three times, and saves the day in the end.

Released two short years after the first Christopher Reeves Superman movie, Super Fuzz is a silly, low-budget parody of the superhero genre. The dialogue is corny, the sound effects cartoonish, and the special effects obviously cheap. And yet this small-budget film, through clever scriptwriting and likable characters, hold up better today than the big-budget Superman films, which rely mainly on their special effects, which were start-of-the-art at the time but quickly began to look dated.

It was interesting to see this film again after so many years. Some scenes, such as Officer Speed losing his superpowers and crashing slow-motion into the red shuttered door of a garage, were exactly as I remember them. The scene Speed lifting the veil of his bride at their wedding to discover that he has dyed her hair a deep red, which he reacts to by winking at the camera in the final shot, was a bit over my head when I was 10 years old.

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