|Index||7 reviews in total|
The first great thriller by director Damiano Damiani, followed by many remarkable films in the 70s, such as "Io ho paura" with Gian Maria Volonte and "Un uomo in ginocchio" with Giuliano Gemma. "Il giorno della civetta" has a marvelous cast: Franco Nero just risen to stardom with "Django" (1966), Claudia Cardinale can be seen here a year before "Once Upon a Time in the West", and veteran tough guy Lee J Cobb. Sciascia's story about the murdered boss of a building company fits Damiano's way to illustrate his view on society: too many people are looking for the easy way out and keep their mouths shut. Simple, direct, honest - few films have so much credibility. Still, for an understandable commercial reason, Mrs Cardinale's role became bigger than it was in the novel.
Being the first of a series of expose' films directed by Damiano
Damiani and starring Franco Nero, this was more sober than the rest -
with few of the typical "Euro-Crime" trappings - even receiving some
accolades when it emerged; it's really a police procedural, with the
only action sequence occurring at the very beginning.
The film is also among the first to deal with the Mafia - though it's never mentioned by name - with the characters governed by their own sense of honor and Sicily's distinctive rustic feel lending vividness to the setting. As with the other Damiani/Nero films, the downbeat ending offers no easy answers.
Apart from a dynamic score by Giovanni Fusco, it features an above-average international cast - Claudia Cardinale (as the defamed wife of an eye-witness to murder, who has gone missing), Franco Nero (as the rugged young cop), Lee J. Cobb (as the 'boss'), Nehemiah Persoff (as one of his associates) and Serge Reggiani (as a stoolie); the hilarious contribution of Gaetano Cimarosa as the wisecracking hit-man is also noteworthy.
For many years now I have always felt that anything shot by the venerable film-maker, Damiano Damiani is well worth a look; and as far as I'm concerned 'Day of The Owl' is most certainly no exception. The entertainment value of 'Day of The Owl' (aka) 'Mafia' increasing exponentially with a stellar cast including Franco Nero, Claudia Cardinale and Lee J. Cobb. (From what I can gather this might actually be one of the earliest examples of the gritty Italian police procedural that ultimately became the more rumbustious Euro Crime genre which we know and love so dearly! As with many Damiani titles his rich and layered work focuses far more on character development and plot, rather than repeated car chases and wild, ungainly haymakers! (That would be you Maurizio Merli!)
"Day of the Owl" or "Mafia" is realistic, tense and absorbing drama. It
doesn't have much physical action, most of it occurring at the
beginning with a murder. The setting is a town in Sicily in which the
new police chief, Franco Nero, who is an outsider from Parma, is
determined to prove that the murder was ordered by Don Marino, played
by Lee J. Cobb. Between them is Claudia Cardinale, whose husband saw
the crime and now has disappeared.
The movie depicts how Mafia control works. It does not operate with wholesale overt violence and murders. Murder is both a threat and a last resort. Instead it operates by threats and pressures, indirection, confusion, plausible cover stories, false rumors, spies, and informants. Omerta, a wall of silence, is a wall of false words and interpretations too.
The corruption of the local road construction is in the substitution of cheap materials for concrete. Matching that is the corruption of the society, which substitutes hypocrisy for truth and extortion for justice. It substitutes Don Marino for Nero, looking up to him but with fear in the heart and resigned to the ineffectiveness of Nero. Cardinale is caught in the middle.
To tag "Mafia", one can say it is an early and dramatic poliziotteschi, which I classify as being in the evolution from noir to neo-noir.
The production is uniformly very good. I was particularly struck by how well Cobb created the Marino character by his physical acting alone, his gestures, facial expressions, and body language, because his lines are in Italian and dubbed by someone else. Claudia Cardinale is intense. Nehemiah Persoff scores as one of Cobb's henchmen. The cinematography and staging make the movie a pleasure to watch.
Highly intense and intriguing Poliziesco film with a good cast who
gives fine performances . ¨Il Giorno della Civetta" - Italy original
title or "Mafia" - , International , USA title , results to be a nice
cop/political/Sicilian Mafia thriller , being professionally filmed and
rightly made by Damiano Damiani . It's a hard boiled movie that packs a
noir story , police procedural , intrigue , detective inquiries and a
final twist in the plot . It concerns a dedicated captain what tries to
wipe out the Mafiosi and bureaucratic corruption that is infecting his
village . This story deals with the difficulties facing a northern
Carabinieri captain named Bellodi (Franco Nero), he is a proverbial
honest men , a stiff , idealistic officer and investigating a Mafia
killing in a small Sicilian town in 1961 . He is helped by an upright
Brigade , both of whom contend dangerous enemies , but determined in
their will to fight crime and corruption . Salvatore Colasbena , a
construction supplier has been killed because he refused to join the
Mafia-controlled road building bunch . His widow, Rosa (a gorgeous
Claudia Cardinale) , is investigated by the Carabinieri , but Captain
Bellodi comes to suspect Mafia boss Don Mariano Arena (Lee J. Cobb)
when he can encounter no witnesses , no evidence, only hostile
obstruction by sabotage and blackmail . Captain Bellodi holding a firm
belief in the law and justice system but he has no idea that his chase
of the truth will stir up powerful foundations , but the Carabinieri
takes on Mafia which the fight is hopeless . Everyone in the village is
afraid to inform to Bellodi for fright they will be silenced forever
and fearing the main Mafiosi and his hoodlums (Nehemiah Persoff) . The
Carabinieri on the edge while investigate ties between the mob ,
politics and State departments . Important figures have a vested
interest in ensuring that the very existence of the Mafia can be denied
. Meanwhile , Bellodi finds corpses buried under a blanket of tar and
faces several risks . But ambition , vendetta , corrupt government
influences and decay reach everything and everybody .
This exciting and thought-provoking Italian cop thriller turns out to be one of the first and best films about the mafia . This heavy-going tale has an interesting and politically incorrect writing by the same director Damiano Damiani along with Ugo Pirro and especially dealing with corruption interwoven between high authorities and Mafia . Based on the Leonardo Sciascia novel of the same title , the movie dramatizes the hold that the Mafia has on Sicilian life : the blackmail, the Omertá , the power and politics . The picture displays thrills , disturbing issues , suspenseful , great visual style and is pretty entertaining , though sometimes is hard to follow . Excellent main cast as Franco Nero as a rough-and-ready captain who attempts to prove the wealthy man in the city is in the mafia , being very good played by the great Lee J. Cobb . Supporting cast is frankly magnificent such as Nehemiah Persoff as Pizzuco , Tano Cimarosa as Zecchinetta and Serge Reggiani as informer . Colorful and appropriate cinematography by Tonino Delli Colli though being necessary a right remastering . Sensitive as well as appropriate musical score by Giovanni Fusco who composed an enjoyable soundtrack .
The motion picture was well directed by Damiano Damiani . He's an expert on all kind of genres as Drama (¨Arthur's island¨ , ¨The Most Beautiful Wife" , ¨The witch¨ , and ¨Empty canvas¨ based on the Alberto Moravia novel) , Terror (Amytiville 2 : the possession) , Historical (¨The Inquiry¨) , Spaghetti Western (¨Trinity is back again¨and the prestigious ¨A bullet for the General¨) . Damiani was specialized on crime-thriller-Subgenre or Italian cop thriller (¨Confessions of a Police captain¨ , ¨How to kill a judge¨, ¨The case is closed , forget it¨, "Goodbye e amen" , ¨Mafia¨, "I Am Afraid" and ¨Warning¨ starred by Martin Balsam) . "Il Giorno Della Civetta" seems to be a ¨must see¨ for the Poliziesco fans . This is one of the crowns of the Italian Poliziotteschi (police thrillers) and Mafia film of the 1970s , along with other films directed by Enzo G . Castellari , Ferdinando Baldi or Umberto Lenzi . Rating : Better than average . Essential and indispensable watching , this highly recommended film is the same for the Italian "mafia-film" of that period.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A very involving thriller about a small town mafia don (Lee J. Cobb) doing battle with a new upstart police captain (Franco Nero). When a farmer witnesses a murder and then disappears, his wife tries to get help from both. Claudia Cardinale is the wife and she's excellent, desperate for answers and getting nowhere with these warring factions. It's a hard boiled film with director Damiano Damiani skipping the predictable good guy vs bad guy clichés and leaving out any romance between Franco & Cardinale. It's a far too unforgiving film. Franco and Cobb are well matched and the first rate supporting cast includes Nehemiah Persoff as one of Cobb's less savory underlings and the great Serge Reggiani as a not so lucky informant. The stunning cinematography is by the legendary Tonino Delli Colli and the exciting music score is by Giovanni Fusco, who worked throughout the 60s with Antonioni & Resnais.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I keep getting pulled into these film adaptations of Leonardo
Sciascia's novels and I never cease to wonder at their fine quality.
Sciascia was an Italian novelist from Sicily, famous for being one of
the first writers to openly write about the Mafia, a subject that in
the early '60s was still prickly, in fact many still denied the Mafia
existed when The Day of the Owl was published in 1961. Today this
criminal organization is an incontrovertible fact, which perhaps
affects the impact this film adaptation has on modern viewers.
I would still heartily recommend this movie to fans of the crime genre on the simple fact it remains a gripping and well-written crime drama. Franco Nero plays Bellodi, a police captain recently transferred to Sicily, where he's slowly learning the ropes. Full of new ideas and a passionate attitude, he tries to rip the veil of silence that covers Mafia hits when the owner of a construction company shows up murdered. As always everyone denies having seen anything. His only possible witness is a man who lives in a house nearby the murder scene; but he's nowhere to be found, and his wife, Rosa (played by Claudia Cardinale), doesn't know where he's gone to.
Bellodi not only has to investigate a murder that leads to one of the most important men in the town, Don Marino (played by Lee J. Cobb), the local Mafia don, but he also has to untangle the truth from the lies surrounding the case, since the Mafia tries to hide the true motives of the murder by making it look like a crime of passion involving Rosa, the victim and Rosa's wayward husband in that society honour can be conveniently used to cover up all crimes.
Nero, Cardinale and Cobb are excellent, and the other actors, mainly unknown Italian actors, do a great job bringing the movie to life too. The movie doesn't have a boring moment, and the intellectual conflict between Bellodi and Don Mariano is gripping. The movie, being one of the first ones to tackle the Mafia, uses many tropes that since then have become trademarks of the genre the cop willing to bend the rules a little for justice, for instance, but more importantly the sense that the Mafia is an unbeatable opponent, too rich and powerful ever to be brought down. Compared to American movies, this one is quite pessimistic, but then again the Mafia in America is not half as chilling as it is in Italy and Sicily.
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