34 user 56 critic

Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (1970)

Indagine su un cittadino al di sopra di ogni sospetto (original title)
A chief of detectives, homicide section, kills his mistress and deliberately leaves clues to prove his own responsibility for the crime.


Elio Petri


Elio Petri (story and screenplay), Ugo Pirro (story and screenplay)

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Prime Video

Won 1 Oscar. Another 15 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »


Learn more

More Like This 

Lulu the Tool (1971)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

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.

Director: Elio Petri
Stars: Gian Maria Volontè, Mariangela Melato, Gino Pernice
Todo modo (1976)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Party leader and power broker Aldo Moro, holed up with his cronies and rivals at a monastic retreat where they plot their political fortunes while being led by a Jesuit cleric in spiritual cleansings.

Director: Elio Petri
Stars: Gian Maria Volontè, Marcello Mastroianni, Mariangela Melato
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A leftist professor wants the truth about two men killed during a hunting party; but the mafia, the Church and corrupt politicians don't want him to learn it.

Director: Elio Petri
Stars: Gian Maria Volontè, Irene Papas, Gabriele Ferzetti
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Enrico Mattei helped change Italy's future, first as freedom-fighter against the Nazis, then as an investor in methane gas through a public company, A.G.I.P., and ultimately as the head of ... See full summary »

Director: Francesco Rosi
Stars: Gian Maria Volontè, Luigi Squarzina, Peter Baldwin
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

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.

Director: Elio Petri
Stars: Ugo Tognazzi, Flavio Bucci, Daria Nicolodi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A middle-aged plumber quits his job and questions his life after seeing somebody his own age suddenly die from a heart attack on his way to work.

Director: Elio Petri
Stars: Salvo Randone, Franco Sportelli, Regina Bianchi
Action | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Some people like violence so much, that they decide to create a club in which human hunts are organized - members being alternately hunters, and prey, until they end up dead.

Director: Elio Petri
Stars: Marcello Mastroianni, Ursula Andress, Elsa Martinelli
The Assassin (1961)
Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Alfredo Martelli is picked up by the police at his apartment without justification. In the precinct, he slowly discovers what the investigation is about as we discover details about his life.

Director: Elio Petri
Stars: Marcello Mastroianni, Micheline Presle, Cristina Gaioni
Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A motley quintet of inept small-time thieves attempt the burglary of a local pawnshop in this Italian farce.

Director: Mario Monicelli
Stars: Vittorio Gassman, Marcello Mastroianni, Renato Salvatori
Il caso Moro (1986)
Crime | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

The story of the infamous 1978 kidnapping of former Italian prime minister Aldo Moro by the left-wing terrorists from the Red Brigades.

Director: Giuseppe Ferrara
Stars: Gian Maria Volontè, Mattia Sbragia, Bruno Zanin
Drama | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A populist right-wing tabloid newspaper tries to derail the official police investigation of a brutal murder of a young girl in order to help the fascist and right-wing candidates it supports in the upcoming elections.

Director: Marco Bellocchio
Stars: Gian Maria Volontè, Fabio Garriba, Carla Tatò
Drama | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

The story of the Finzi-Continis, a noble family of Ferrara, during the Jewish persecution in Italy's 1930s.

Director: Vittorio De Sica
Stars: Dominique Sanda, Lino Capolicchio, Helmut Berger


Cast overview, first billed only:
Gian Maria Volontè ... Il Dottore - Former Head of Homicide Squad
Florinda Bolkan ... Augusta Terzi
Gianni Santuccio Gianni Santuccio ... Questore
Orazio Orlando ... Brigadiere Biglia
Sergio Tramonti Sergio Tramonti ... Antonio Pace
Arturo Dominici ... Mangani
Aldo Rendine Aldo Rendine ... Nicola Panunzio
Massimo Foschi ... Terzi - Augusta's Husband
Aleka Paizi Aleka Paizi ... Inspector's Maid
Vittorio Duse ... Canes
Pino Patti Pino Patti ... Head of Wire-Tapping Office
Salvo Randone ... Plumber
Giuseppe Licastro Giuseppe Licastro
Filippo De Gara Filippo De Gara ... Police Official
Fulvio Grimaldi Fulvio Grimaldi ... Patanè - 'Paese Sera' Journalist


A chief of detectives, homicide section, kills his mistress and deliberately leaves clues to prove his own responsibility for the crime. Written by Damir Dukich <Damir.Dukic@snet.fer.uni-lj.si>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


When you're a big man in the big city, can you get away with murder ? [UK Theatrical] See more »


Crime | Drama


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

9 September 1970 (Finland) See more »

Also Known As:

Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Vera Films S.p.a. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (1970)

Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The main character's name is never revealed. See more »


[first lines]
Augusta Terzi: How are you going to kill me today?
Il Dottore - Former head of homicide squad: I'm going to cut your throat.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The subtitled American version distributed by Columbia has slight differences in the credits. The Italian version opens with blank white-on-black credits (as many other Petri films do). The American version projects the credits onto the opening scene with the Dottore walking around the street. Both the opening and the closing credits (including the film's title and the Kafka quotation) are translated to English as well. See more »


Referenced in Above Suspicion (2013) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Italian Cinema at Its Peak!
26 July 2007 | by pipeoxideSee all my reviews

The final scene in Elio Petri's 1970 Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion concludes with a quote from Kafka's The Trial: "Whatever he may seem to us, he is yet a servant of the Law; that is, he belongs to the Law and as such is set beyond human judgment." What Petri has left out from this excerpt is also that "to doubt his integrity is to doubt the Law itself". The "he" in question here is the man of the Law – the police inspector – played brilliantly, hair slicked back et al, by Gian Maria Volontè. Without any scruples, we see the Inspector coldly cut his mistress's throat with a razor between the sheets in a kinky role-playing romp, sans scruples, only to prove to himself if he is, as he believes, a citizen above suspicion and beyond the Law which he so firmly adheres to.

This complex film is a cinematic gem thanks to its multifarious tropes – at times absurd black comedy, at times vitriolic political satire, at times psychological study into sexual fetishism and power. Of course, all of these themes intermingle so effortlessly that you can't help but be taken aback by the richness of Petri's byzantine vision. The left-leaning director here depicts the autocratic terror that overtook Italy in the late 60s, an overture to the tense, decade-long period known as the "years of lead" in Italian politics – a time of fascist repression and a struggle between the equally-as-extreme left and right of center parties.

Beyond its political overtones (which are universal yet now paradoxically outdated, as we see rebellious students waving their little red Maoist books around to anger the "fascist pigs" in the police force), Investigation plays its strongest and most universal hand in its view of authority, and specifically, those that wield an ungodly amount of it. The Inspector, in a snug, black suit, commands and degrades his subordinates, yet in the way a responsible teacher would reprimand a naughty student. That is, he believes his own righteousness and position, and here, once he commits the murder of Augusta Terzi (the stunning Florinda Bolkan), he leaves the Law to spin its wheels of Justice, having full confidence in the organ of power that commands him. As the Inspector sits in the office of his boss, the Commissioner (a sleazy Gianni Santuccio), he trembles like a child, waiting for approval and acceptance. After the latter admits to having an affair with the murdered victim, the unperturbed Commissioner asks him amidst a smoke-filled smirk, holding a cigar in his fat fingers, "So, was she, you know? Any good?" Here we can make the link between power and sexual impotence, as the simple reason the Inspector kills his lover is because she has brought to light his personal inadequacies as a man. An individual who holds such dominance over others, who commands such authority, is an addictive aphrodisiac for Bolkan's underwear-hating heroine, but after a while, she sees her Inspector is nothing more than a capricious child obsessed and deceived with a position of power that holds no integrity and no truth. For her, his sexual appeal has vanished, the organ of dominance has grown limp, as the incongruity between the Inspector's projected image and his actual self begins to grow. She hates his little black socks, his dull black suit, and his overall bureaucratic appearance. In a few great satirical moments, we see the impressionable Inspector strolling the streets in a trendy new khaki suit, a purple silk ascot, fashionable sunglasses – a caricature of Italian culture to the fullest.

So what prompts Volontè's Inspector to make his final decision? Is he a stern follower of the Law who wants to test it and prove himself superior to his inept colleagues; a sadistic neofascist bureaucrat who lives for control and subjugation of others; an infantile with a bruised ego thanks to an untamable feminine force? Are we, as viewers, not to question his actions, but simply to accept them as necessary because he's "a man of the Law", superior to us, despite his faults, as Kafka leads us to believe…or is that just Petri's tongue-in-cheek humor getting the best of us? That's the fun of this great film, and the kookiness of Ennio Morricone's twangy score adds to the comical effect of a dark and witty étude into power, sex, and politics.

32 of 38 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 34 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed