"Quer pasticciaccio brutto de via Merulana" in Italian translates to "That awful mess on Merulana Avenue". I recall seeing this wonderful mini series back in 1987 and have never been privileged to see another repeat ever, or anywhere else in the world for that matter. I enjoyed it very much as it is based in Rome during the early 1920's, centered on a homicide that occurred in an apartment on Via Merulana (Merulana Avenue) which is actually a real location in Rome, having later recalled much to my surprise taking a detour down there back in 1991. I believe it is based upon Carlo Emilio Gadda's novel "That Awful Mess on Via Merulana".
Detective Ingravallo (superbly performed by Flavio Bucci in this mini series) is a tall thin philosophical sweet talker, resembling more of a Shemp character in appearance, especially with his big protruding eyes and straight jet black hair filled with hair gel, neatly combed from his forehead right over his crown, but yet he is very elegant. He is shrewd and cunning, stopping at nothing to achieve his objectives. He analysis his investigations much like a poet rehearsing his work or a tutor instructing his student.
He has a crush on Liliana Balducci (performed by Scilla Gabel) who happens to be everything that he desires in a woman, having it all, both in her angelic character and physical beauty, but sadly for him ( and for any other serious hopeful single man) is married. He maintains his moral etiquette and moves on with his duties.
The mess ( which is probably why it is in the main title) all begins when Ms. Balducci is found murdered in her apartment, lying on the ground in a manner which shows her petticoat in an almost indecent way ( well for the 1920's standards anyway) and he is distressed both professionally and personally to obsessively solve this case at all costs. He shows his respect at the scene of the crime, when he bends over and straightens her dress to cover her petticoat and knees. The mess is made more complicated as there is some confusion between links to another crime being a burglary at Contessa Meneghazzi's apartment. There is also a series of misleading clues which almost puts the detective Ingravallo to a similar rank as the Italian version of Sherlock Holmes. It keeps the viewer guessing and very much invites you to play your role in help solving both crimes.
There is a beautiful scenery of Rome from the window of Ingravallo's apartment with an art deco touch of the 1920's when the inspector pours water from a porcelain vase into the bedroom basin, while he is preparing to wash his hands, similar to a scene from "Great Expectations" when the lawyer washes his hands in the wash basin.
I recommend it to those that like detective stories and in particular keeps you guessing with your mind open right up to the very end.
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