Rosi’s inflammatory Lucky Luciano was hailed by Norman Mailer as “the finest movie yet made about the Mafia, the most careful, the most thoughtful, the truest and most sensitive to the paradoxes of a society of crime.” The film is a dossier-like dramatic investigation in the manner of the director’s Salvatore Giuliano and The Mattei Affair. Gian Maria Volonté, Rosi’s favourite actor, gives a forceful performance as Luciano, the notorious Italian-American crime lord. Handed a lengthy prison sentence by the State of New York in 1936, Luciano was mysteriously paroled to the U.S Army during WWII, and then deported in 1946 to his native Sicily, where he allegedly became a kingpin in the international drug trade. Rosi’s provocative polemic hints at dark connections between American politicos and Italian Mafiosos, and suggests that U.S. officials encouraged the Mafia as a bulwark against Communist influence in wartime Italy — only to later became alarmed by Mafia drug traffic into the U.S. —Pacific Cinémathèque
The films of Francesco Rosi stand as an urgent riposte to any proposal of aesthetic puritanism as a sine qua non of engaged filmmaking. From Salvatore Giuliano to Illustrious Corpses and Chronicle of a Death Foretold, he uses a mobilisation of the aesthetic potential of the cinema not to decorate his tales of corruption, complicity, and death, but to illuminate and interrogate the reverberations these events cause. If one quality were to be isolated as especially distinctive and characteristic it would have to be the sense of intellectual passion, of direction propelled by an impassioned sense of inquiry. This can be true in a quite literal way in Salvatore Giuliano, in which any “suspense” accruing to Giuliano’s death is put aside in favour of a search for another kind of knowledge; and The Mattei Affair, in which the soundtrack amasses evidence that is presented virtually in opposition to the images before us; or, in a more metaphoric sense, Christ Stopped at Eboli, which represents… read more
Posters for an essential retrospective in New York of the films of the great Italian chronicler of crime and punishment, Francesco Rosi.