While making love on a Sunday afternoon, a powerful inspector in the Rome police force slits his mistress Augusta’s throat. The assassin then plants conspicuous clues and proclaims the murder in an anonymous call to headquarters. About Augusta’s apartment he scatters photographs of the deceased masochistically enacting, as she did in her relationship with him, the roles of well-known homicide victims. Abundant fingerprints, bloody footprints, and a thread from the murderer’s blue silk tie comprise additional, intentionally incriminating evidence. The police prefer to ignore such proofs, however, as the murderer, a rabid anti-communist, has recently been promoted from chief of the homicide section to head of the intelligence unit. They suspect instead the victim’s former husband, homosexual artist Terzi, and her student lover, revolutionary chemist Antonio Pace, who witnessed the crime. Though a casual confession to a young plumber has come to naught, since the plumber, intimidated by the inspector’s position, withdraws his accusation, the inspector’s written confession constrains the police commissioner to act. The commissioner proceeds to the murderer’s apartment, where the waiting assassin dreams of absolute acquittal. —TCM
Elio Petri was born in Rome on January 29th, 1923 into a modest family, his father being a coppersmith. As only son, he grew up in the working-class area of the city before attending school where he was noted for his intelligence.
After being expelled for political reason from San Giuseppe di Merode, a school run by priest on Piazza di Spagna, he embarked on a career combining political militancy, film-journalism and the coordination of cultural activities for the youth organization of the italian communist party. He wrote for Unita’ and for Gioventu’ nuova as well as for Citta’ aperta. He left the party in 1956 after the Hungarian rising. A friend of Gianni Puccini, he was introduced through him to Giuseppe De Santis and became Assistant to the director of Bitter Rice.
He collaborated, without being credited for it, on Rome 11 O’Clock (1952), carrying out the preliminary inquiry among the real-life protagonist of the drama. The inquiry was published in book form in 1956… read more
A perfect cocktail of political critique, dangerous eroticism, classic murder mystery, and personal mania. Unlike some Italian films from this time period that seek to capture and comment upon the revolutionary upheaval affecting society at the time, this one resists becoming dated because of its brazen streak of kinky and unabashed energy, energy that expresses itself not only through the absurdist execution of the
plot, but through the performances of the principals. Volontè seems genuinely mad (also genuinely childlike) at times, while Bolkan's stare (as well as her giddy willingness to reenact crime scenes as a form of foreplay) seems always present and ready to break back into the narrative through flashback. The Italian Blu-ray has both English subs and an excellent a/v presentation. So, so good.
Un'opera maestosa. Petri, maestro dei primissimi piani,plasma un Volontè titanico,padrone di ogni sequenza.I suoi sguardi impassibili,le sue azioni imprevedibili e i suoi ragionamenti perversi inquietano per tutta la durata del film e lo pongono come emblema di un potere corrotto,autodistruttivo per chiunque ne sia padrone o lo desideri.Finale sublime,con un climax insuperabile e un Morricone martellante.Immortale.5*
Straordinario, quasi orwelliano alla fine nel suo proporre una storia senza via d'uscita, questo racconto sul potere, su come inseguirlo o leccarlo porti solamente all'autodistruzione. Spietato nella critica a un sistema corrotto, sbagliato e ingiusto, che pone i potenti veramente al di sopra di ogni possibile sospetto. La citazione finale a Kafka è perfetta. Un capolavoro.