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The Assassin (1961)

L'assassino (original title)
Not Rated | | Crime, Thriller | August 1965 (USA)
Alfredo Martelli is picked up by the police in his apartment without justification. In the precinct, he slowly discovers what is the investigation about as we find out details about his life.



(story) (as Antonio Guerra), (story) | 4 more credits »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Adalgisa De Matteis
Nicoletta Nogaro (as Cristina Gajoni)
Commissario Palumbo
Andrea Checchi ...
Francesco Grandjacquet ...
Vecchio signore
Marco Mariani ...
Commissario Margiotta
Franco Ressel ...
Dottore Francesconi
Mac Ronay ...
Toni Ucci ...
Max Cartier ...
Bruno Scipioni
Lucia Raggi
Giovanna Gagliardo ...
Liana Ferri ...
(as Lina Ferri)


The antiquarian Alfredo Martelli is brought to the precinct without any explanation to be interviewed by the Police Inspector Palumbo. During the questioning, Martelli learns that his wealthy mistress Adalgisa De Matteis, who is older than he, was stabbed to death and he is the prime suspect of the police officers. While in jail, Martelli recalls moments of his life with Adalgisa and his love affair with the young Nicoletta Nogaro. Meanwhile the police proceed with the investigation. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Murderer? Lover? Or Both? See more »


Crime | Thriller


Not Rated | See all certifications »





Release Date:

August 1965 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Assassin  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


By Henri Salvador
Sung by Henri Salvador
Fontana records
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User Reviews

The Assassin!
5 May 2017 | by See all my reviews

Alfredo Martelli (Marcello Mastroianni) is picked up by the police in his apartment without justification. In the precinct, he slowly discovers what is the investigation about as we find out details about his life.

Director Elio Petri made a large handful of classic films. His best known, "Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion" (1970), was about the police force. "The Working Class Goes to Heaven" (1971) focused on the worker's condition. And "Property Is No Longer a Theft" (1973) emphasized the role of money in our society and how power destroys the individual. But "The Assassin" (1961) was his first feature film, and for that fact alone deserves to be looked at more closely.

Petri was able to land star Marcello Mastroianni at the perfect point in his career. Although he was already an award-winning actor, this pint had him just finishing up "La Dolce Vita" and about to start "8 1/2", quite possibly the two biggest Italian films of that era, and ones that would make him an international star.

This film's legacy includes the story of cinematographer Carlo DiPalma, who went on to make some notable Italian films (including "Blowup"), and perhaps more interestingly, a dozen movies with Woody Allen in the 1980s. This was also an early film for composer Piero Piccioni and his jazzy piano, which really moves the film forward at every turn. He would eventually contribute to over 300 soundtracks at least up through 1990.

Both the crisp black-and-white photography and the catchy, memorable score are key pieces of what make this film worthy of further inspection. But there is also the unusual narrative structure. Perhaps due to poor dubbing, some viewers have mistakenly wondered why the lead character seems to be living two lives. In fact, the answer is quite clear: much of the film is a flashback. While probably not unique, this structure does allow the audience to better understand the current predicament of our hero in little pieces... and then decide for themselves. This method also suggests that a second (or third) viewing might further elucidate the plot.

The Arrow Blu-ray features a 2K digital restoration from the Cineteca di Bologna, and it looks stunning. We also get an introduction by Italian cinema expert Pasquale Iannone and a nearly hour-long documentary, "Tonino Guerra: A Poet in the Movies" by Nicola Tranquillino. While supplies last, each disc comes with a booklet featuring writing on the film by Petri expert Camilla Zamboni, Petri's own critical analysis of 1950s Italian cinema, plus a selection of contemporary reviews.

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