One of the first films about the mafia occurrence, in which the fight is hopeless, because "the polyp's feeler" reaches everything and everybody. A police inspector and a deputy public ... See full summary »
One of the first films about the mafia occurrence, in which the fight is hopeless, because "the polyp's feeler" reaches everything and everybody. A police inspector and a deputy public prosecutor try to prove that the architect in the city is in the mafia. Written by
Kornel Osvart <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Political thriller by Damiano Damiani (BULLET FOR THE GENERAL, HOW TO KILL A JUDGE) that creates a world so vivid that every time I watch it, I forget Franco Nero didn't dub his own voice. The opening scene takes place in a Sicilian mad house, hundreds of years old, fortified with decaying stone. It is here that we first hear Riz Ortolani's amazing theme, a fuzz-tone guitar and a melancholy orchestra, and the ranting and moans of madmen. We see Captain Bonavia (Martin Balsam, who did dub his own voice) arrange for the release of LiPuma, a psychotic criminal obsessed with cleanliness who is no sooner free than he makes an attempt on the life of a gangster named D'Ambrosio, which results in the deaths of Lipuma and several of D'Ambrosio's thugs, but not D'Ambrosio. It is immediately hinted that Bonavia arranged for LiPuma's release for just this reason. The mystery here isn't who did what, but why he did it, and who you're supposed to root for: Captain Bonavia, the official made cynical and allegedly irresponsible by years on the job, who may or may not be motivated by graft, or DA Traini (Franco Nero), who investigates the attempt on D'Ambrosio's life. Traini is young and idealistic and immediately suspects Bonavia's involvement. Bonavia is fifty going on a hundred and mocks Traini at every turn as he fills him in on the history of a city built, literally, on corpses. Damiani underlines the similarities between these two men--does Traini embody the idealism Bonavia lost, are they both just stooges of a corrupt, ancient system--in subtle ways, and he, along with Balsam, builds Bonavia's character with equal aplomb. You can watch this film repeatedly and see these subtleties, equal credit for which must go to Balsam's performance, which is one of his best, which is saying a lot. Minor characters, like LiPuma and his hunted sister, Serena, come across with enough depth to exacerbate the tension. Riz Ortolani's score chimes in at just the right moments to intensify the drama, which is what this really is, a drama that grabs you by the guts. Damiani's ability to create this kind of film, angry and topical, anti-establishment, but so lived-in, it never feels forced, deserves greater recognition. This one, especially, should be required viewing, despite the fact that I've never seen it in any form other than a cheesy DVD that probably capitalized on public domain and is dubbed (it should be noted that the Italians dubbed most of their films, even the Italian versions, and were good at it) and has glitches that lead me to believe it was mastered from VHS. Don't avoid; the integrity of the film survives.
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