|Index||5 reviews in total|
After a punchy start, the political banners of a coming election across
Milanese streets and a leftist demonstration that leads to fire bombing
the news paper office where editor Volonte is quick to take advantage
of the story, this one weaves through what looks like it will be a
complicated account of class warfare but ends up being a simple minded
polemic. It's hard to swallow an editor personally intimidating the
guilty party into silence for his own purposes.
However this is the Volonte of L'ATTENTAT and INDAGINE SU UN CITTADINO, dominating the screen with a stops out performance and just watching him is worth the ticket price. Laura Betti, as the party faithful he makes look as if she has betrayed her cause, can go head to head with him. No one else stands much of a chance.
There is a great Morricone sounding score and expert camera-work - zooming down passage ways to provide menace. The use of a working newspaper as background is particularly effective.
These European political thrillers, of which Volonte was the mast head star, are a rewarding collection and should have wider circulation.
The film's main lesson is its realism, miles away from Hollywood's view of newspaper and newsmakers, even when it tries to be critical. The cynical newspaper editor's character (played by Volontè) is a brilliant and accurate portrait of the worst manipulative journalism.
..left out of the above is the equal condemnation of the left. No side is unscathed, I think the overall thrust of the film is that the victims are the innocent believers in justice. A very complex portrayal of the chaos and selfishness which imbue (Italian) politics. And, of course, each individuals complicity in the whole stewpot. I would add that the montage sequences date this film. Overall the cinematography is outstanding, performances excellent. The score and pacing satisfy. Not a traditional police procedural, but more of a character study. It is definitely a deft delivery of a construction that relies more on your faith in the film maker, rather than the presentation of a protagonist. I hate giving films stars, but how about 7.
Really good, solid, political film making from a new fave of mine, Marco Belloccio. Indeed this taut thriller mixes the murky world of newspapers with the equally murky world of politics. This opens with in your face real footage of early 70s street riots in Milan. Such is the ferocity and spectacle it seems likely that once the narrative begins there will be an anti-climatic lull. Not at all, Gian Maria Volonte stars as the newspaper boss prepared to do anything for his fascist friends and the survival of his newspaper. His cynicism and by implication that of the director knows no bounds. An innocent schoolgirl is raped, there is a clear guilty party but does it suit the ends of those in charge for matters to proceed as they should? Volonte is masterly in the role, as he was in the slightly earlier, Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion but he is aided here by more than adequate support from all involved. Thrilling, disturbing and very provocative.
Considering the sheer amount of (vaguely boring) movies flaunting their individual creator's extreme left-wing politics to emerge from Europe throughout the 1960s and 1970s, it is hard in hindsight to believe just how many talented film-makers were 'duped' into upholding such naïve ideals; that said, the other side of the coin basically equating Fascism was even less comforting and that more dangerous but it does make for rather intriguing (and ultimately more rewarding) cinema! Bellocchio's film, then, was one of a handful of titles to look at this alternative 'option': perhaps the most famous such example was Elio Petri's Oscar-winning INVESTIGATION OF A CITIZEN ABOVE SUSPICION (1970), which shares with the picture under review its leading man Gian Maria Volonte'; like that one and Dino Risi's similarly excellent IN NOME DEL POPOLO ITALIANO (1971), the film takes the form of a thriller both this and the latter, in fact, involve the investigation into the rape and murder of a teenager emanating from high society: here, a radical is accused of the crime and hounded by Volonte''s opportunistic newspaper for it but the guilty party turns out to be somebody else, ferreted by a reporter not taken in by his superior's wiles, who is pursued in turn (and even blackmailed!) by the unscrupulous editor. The movie paints a most cynical image of the press, beginning with Volonte' 'embellishing' and directing his underlings to shoot a fire that broke out at the office during a riot (he is seen making intermittent contact throughout with the politically-affiliated young owner of the paper, played by "Euro-Cult" stalwart John Steiner); later on, while viewing the TV broadcast of a talk-show he was involved in, the man even takes it upon his wife for her passivity and intellectual limitations!; however, the worst victim of his dishonesty is the uncouth schoolteacher (Laura Betti) he befriended in order to exploit for her affair with the murder suspect one of the film's best sequences is the one where she is made to confront her lover's fellow activists in the police station. The film features a good Morricone-esquire score by Nicola Piovani and ends on a shot depicting the rampant pollution at the city limits a metaphor for the so-called "yellow press" and remarkably similar to the finale of yet another newspaper movie, the classic FIVE STAR FINAL (1931).
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