Mya Communication // 1984 // 98 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Tom Becker // February 3rd, 2012
"Sissies like your type."
Horrors! At the Blue Gay, evidently the biggest drag club in Milan, featured -- and veteran -- performer Nadia has been strangled! Horrors! Only one man can solve this case, only one member of the police force can crack this...Inspector Nico Giraldi.
Unfortunately, Giraldi's indisposed: his wife has just given birth to a daughter, and he wants a little paternity leave. The chief of police wants him on the case, though, and between his wife's nagging and his newborn's crying, Giraldi comes to think it's not such a bad idea.
So he moves in with his friend and sidekick, "Fluffy," telling his wife he's actually in New York. Soon, Giraldi is navigating the treacherous waters of the local drag scene, armed with only his wits, his charm, his machismo...and a very pliable friend.
If you're looking for a hard-hitting Italian police thriller with a twisty side-trip to the bowels of alternasex...this isn't it. On the other hand, if you're looking for a silly, Euro-cop comedy, then pull up a lavender settee and get comfy.
Cop in Drag was the eleventh and last in a series of Nico Giraldi films that starred the great Tomas Milian. I've only seen one other -- The Cop in Blue Jeans, the first entry -- and that one, like this, was heavy on comedy, if a bit heavier on action and violence. While I can't comment on the entire series, I'm guessing that films called Crime at the Chinese Restaurant (with Milian plaing dual roles as Giraldi and a character named Ciu Ci Ciao) or Crime in Formula One (Giraldi involved with race cars and aerobics) weren't exactly dark and daring police stories.
Cop in Drag is too good-natured to be called "bad," but too lame brained to be called anything else. This is just silly stuff.
The comedic shock value of a straight character dealing with gay characters seems more 1974 than 1984, but here it is, post-disco era. Nadia's drag queen rival, Colomba Lamarr -- by default, the prime suspect -- falls hard for the hirsute Giraldi, leading to all manner of complications, as Giraldi finds himself "cheating" on two wives: his actual, heterosexual one, and Fluffy, his pretend gay one.
While the write up on the DVD case promises that this "is possibly one of the least politically correct films ever," there's nothing especially offensive about Cop in Drag. While there are, naturally, plenty of straight/gay jokes, and the occasional use of the word "sissy," there's nothing mean-spirited here; in fact, any character who is actually homophobic comes to a bad end, with Giraldi developing a perfectly non-grudging respect for the guys who dress as dolls.
This being the eleventh Giraldi film in nine years -- all directed by Bruno Corbucci -- Milian wears the role like a glove, and his performance has a broad, sitcomish feel to it that's completely ingratiating and works just fine. Giraldi's sidekick, Fluffy (listed as Venticello on IMDb), came into the series early on, the second or third installment, I believe. Fluffy/Venticello is portrayed by rotund Italian comedian Bombolo, who proves a perfect foil. Milian and Bombolo have that special chemistry, like Gleason and Carney, Abbott and Costello, or Randall and Klugman. Watching Bombolo take on the role of Giraldi's "wife" -- and failing to drop the role at home -- is pretty hilarious, and the pairing of these two is reason enough to see the film.
What would not be a good reason is any expectation that this is an actual cop film or mystery. Guessing who the killer isn't should take all of two seconds, and guessing who the killer is won't exactly tax your brain, either. Toward the end, there's some nonsense that tries to shift focus to make this more of an espionage thriller, but all it does is serve to bog things down.
Beyond that, we get some appropriately silly drag queen production numbers, an out-of-nowhere scene in which all the dialogue is based on the titles of Fellini films, plenty of mugging from the stars, a action-heavy side trips, the most bone-chilling nature vs. nurture argument ever committed to film, and Giraldi dressed like a gladiator commandeering a horse-drawn chariot to chase some bad guys.
The disc from Mya does the trick, I guess, but it does little else: full-frame transfer, mono audio, zippo extras save for the slightly clumsily written notes on the back of the case.
It's not a great film, but it is funny in its ridiculousness, charming in spots, and even a little touching here and there. Mya's disc isn't top-flight, but unless there's some kind of global Tomas Milian resurgence -- a development I'd personally cheer, by the way -- it's likely the only R1 release Cop in Drag is going to get.
All drag queens are equal, though some are more equal than others, and since Cop in Drag is equal parts silly and endearing, I'm calling it not guilty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Mya Communication
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (Italian)
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Release Year: 1984
MPAA Rating: Not Rated