In the Name of the Law (1949) Poster

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Law Must Be More Than Words
boblipton29 June 2021
Massimo Girotti has just been appointed the judge of a small town in Sicily. It's controlled by the local baron, Camillo Mastrocinque, and Mafia, headed by Charles Vanel. Girotti tries to govern by the law, but everyone in the town is used to the corruption, the murders, and the donkey stealing. He has only a few allies: a youngster, one of the police, and Jones Salinas, the baroness.

Pietro Germi, who wrote and directed this, seems to have seen a lot of westerns and been influenced by them for this movie; the way the Mafia ride into town, shotguns at their backs, Carlo Rustichelli's English-horn-dominated music raising the blood, feels like an A western, with the hero about to stand off the gang of bandits. The movie is remarkably frank about the habits of the area, how everyone is simply used to things being how they are, and blaming whoever it s safe to, specifically the stiff-necked Girotti. While I found the ending a little abrupt and pat, getting there was worth the trip.
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If I die, I forgive him /If I survive,I'll kill him!
ulicknormanowen12 March 2020
Warning: Spoilers
The title is the last line of the dialog.It took the whole movie to allow judge Schiavi to enforce the law ,but this ending may seem too optimistic to some viewers.

Third movie by Pietro Germi ,a director whose first works displayed a strong social concern ("gioventu perduta" "il cammino della speranza ")

Both the beginning of "il cammino della speranza " and " in nome delle legge" take place in Sicily .The latter might be seen as some kind of continuation of the former :as the mine has definitively closed , the inhabitants of the village leaves for the so called promised land (France)

In their form ,both movies belong to the neo-realism school :the depiction of the stretches burnt by a blistering sun an of small village under the maffia's thumb .When he arrives ,the judge feels that the baron wants him to be a pawn in his game ,by trying to bribe him; and even though he is popular among the humble people , he cannot stand their resignation, their omertà (ringing the bells is the first call to rebellion );but ,if he also puts the blame on the inhabitants' passivity ,he has his own weaknesses :why not give up this thankless life and leave for a much more comfortable career in a peaceful town ,with the baron's wife he has fallen in love with?

Good performances by character actor Massimo Girotti (also present in "Gioventu perduta" ) and French actor Charles Vanel,whose career almost spanned the whole twentieth century.
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Outstanding Italian film deserves more serious consideration.
Mozjoukine1 February 2004
While foreign critics were lauding the so called Neo Realist classics, Italian audiences were flocking to the films of Pietro Germi.

Were they right? The realist films were an uneven lot. Rosellini burned out rapidly. Visconti was always suspect. Luigi Zampa went off the radar to turn up twenty years later as a sure hand and De Sica, the movement's genuine talent, sold out often and at a high price. However Germi went from strength to strength, from realism to the films which launched the celebrated Italian Comedy still to come.

I rate this his best film and one of the major achievements of Italian cinema. For a hero we get magistrate Girotti, getting the warning from his apparently mad predecessor, finding the remote rural community under the dual authority of harassed Germi regular, Urzi the cop and imposing mafia land owner Charles Vanel who arrives on horseback with a flourish that would do credit to any western. The film's ambivalence towards him, twenty years in front of THE GODFATHER is one of the film's great strengths.

Craftsmanship is superior and the writing, notably of the fugitive killer whose family Girotti turns loose, continually asserts a vision we do not recognize from any level of European film. This one is a class act.

Like all of Germi's films however, it is flawed and the romantic sub-plot never convinces.

This is possibly the major work of a major creator who continually challenged the expectations of his audience.
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Cosa Nostra.
brogmiller20 July 2021
Giuseppe Guido lo Schiavo based his 'Piccola Pretura' on his experiences as a praetor in Barrafranca, Sicily. Its potential was quickly spotted and Pietro Germi's film was released the following year.

When Massimo Girotti's black-suited and hatted Judge Guido steps off the coach into a bleached landscape one thinks of Spencer Tracy's man with a mission in 'Bad Day at Black Rock' from 1957. Like Sturges' film this is a mixture of Western and Film Noir. There is also a passing nod to John Ford and Carlo Rustichelli's stirring music that accompanies the Mafiosi on horseback further heightens the Western feel. The town marshall is played by Germi regular Saro Urzi and the local landowning Baron by Camillo Mastrocinque.

The obligatory bandit chief has here become the Mafia 'Boss' of Charles Vanel, superb as always but not very convincingly dubbed.

The judge is a man of unimpeachable principles and moral integrity and as such could easily be a one-dimensional bore. This is not the case here however as Massimo Girotti is both a strong leading man and an excellent actor whilst the film's emotional balance is fulfilled by his attraction to the baron's cultured and deeply unhappy wife, played by the ravishing Jone Salinas.

Guido feels powerless to achieve his noble intentions in the face of corruption, complacency and fear and just when he is about to throw in the towel and go off with the baroness, the murder of an innocent young man is committed. Could this be the catalyst that brings opposing forces together.......?

This powerful piece is wonderfully shot by Germi's chosen cinematographer Leonida Barboni and the screenplay is by Fellini and Monicelli. The assistant director is Enzo Provenzale who went on to direct his own Mafia-themed 'Vento del Sud'.

The optimistic finale was shown in 'Cinema Paradiso' and loudly applauded, understandably so as it gives the impression that Justice will prevail.

History has a habit though of teaching us that the more things change, the more they remain the same!
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tense sicilian drama
happytrigger-64-39051730 August 2019
I just can't believe it, only 1 review for this tense sicilian drama full of psychological details and lot of twists. "In nomme della legge" is the story of the new judge arriving in a small mountain village and facing all kind of rivalries, especially with owners (like in western). The tension is getting faster and faster, more and more violent. All the casting is extraordinary, of course Massimo Girotti, and as always Charles Vanel. I can swear that the final is a real slap that every villager have in their face, as for the viewers. I really don't undestand why so many masterpieces like this one are forgotten.
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