A bank cashier, who's allergic to banknotes, quits his job after an armed robbery. He decides to start a new life, as a thief. He starts by targeting a popular former client, a butcher. But being a neurotic Marxist has its drawbacks.
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Vito De Taranto
A conscientious factory worker gets his finger cut off by a machine. Although the physical handicap is not serious, the accident causes him to become more involved in political and revolutionary groups.
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Gian Maria Volontè,
The antiquarian Alfredo Martelli is brought to a police precinct without any explanation and interviewed by Inspector Palumbo. During the questioning, Martelli learns that his older wealthy mistress Adalgisa De Matteis was stabbed to death and he is the prime suspect. While in jail, Martelli recalls moments of his life with Adalgisa and his love affair with the young Nicoletta Nogaro.Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Alfredo Martelli (Marcello Mastroianni) is picked up by the police in his apartment without justification. In the precinct, he slowly discovers what is the investigation about as we find out details about his life.
Director Elio Petri made a large handful of classic films. His best known, "Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion" (1970), was about the police force. "The Working Class Goes to Heaven" (1971) focused on the worker's condition. And "Property Is No Longer a Theft" (1973) emphasized the role of money in our society and how power destroys the individual. But "The Assassin" (1961) was his first feature film, and for that fact alone deserves to be looked at more closely.
Petri was able to land star Marcello Mastroianni at the perfect point in his career. Although he was already an award-winning actor, this pint had him just finishing up "La Dolce Vita" and about to start "8 1/2", quite possibly the two biggest Italian films of that era, and ones that would make him an international star.
This film's legacy includes the story of cinematographer Carlo DiPalma, who went on to make some notable Italian films (including "Blowup"), and perhaps more interestingly, a dozen movies with Woody Allen in the 1980s. This was also an early film for composer Piero Piccioni and his jazzy piano, which really moves the film forward at every turn. He would eventually contribute to over 300 soundtracks at least up through 1990.
Both the crisp black-and-white photography and the catchy, memorable score are key pieces of what make this film worthy of further inspection. But there is also the unusual narrative structure. Perhaps due to poor dubbing, some viewers have mistakenly wondered why the lead character seems to be living two lives. In fact, the answer is quite clear: much of the film is a flashback. While probably not unique, this structure does allow the audience to better understand the current predicament of our hero in little pieces... and then decide for themselves. This method also suggests that a second (or third) viewing might further elucidate the plot.
The Arrow Blu-ray features a 2K digital restoration from the Cineteca di Bologna, and it looks stunning. We also get an introduction by Italian cinema expert Pasquale Iannone and a nearly hour-long documentary, "Tonino Guerra: A Poet in the Movies" by Nicola Tranquillino. While supplies last, each disc comes with a booklet featuring writing on the film by Petri expert Camilla Zamboni, Petri's own critical analysis of 1950s Italian cinema, plus a selection of contemporary reviews.
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