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Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion

Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (1970)

February. 09,1970

A chief of detectives, homicide section, commits a murder and deliberately leaves clues to prove his own responsibility for the crime.



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Lack of good storyline.


Wow! What a bizarre film! Unfortunately the few funny moments there were were quite overshadowed by it's completely weird and random vibe throughout.


A film with more than the usual spoiler issues. Talking about it in any detail feels akin to handing you a gift-wrapped present and saying, "I hope you like it -- It's a thriller about a diabolical secret experiment."


Good solid political thriller from Elio Petri with an instantly recognisable score by Morricone. I sought this out with some energy having been stunned by the director's later, Property Is No Longer A Theft but i have to say I prefer the later film. This has less of the humour and some may prefer that it concentrates more directly on the politics. Gian Maria Volonte is impressive in the lead as the obsessed police chief with more than a hint of Mussolini about him. The central issue here, as implied by the title, is whether a person in a position of power and influence automatically attracts the support of the state. Here our half crazed chief, goaded by his girlfriend (the wonderful Florinda Bolkan) is so taken with the notion that he plays with it always tempted to push things so far just to prove the truth. To us as viewers, of course, this 'truth' is a travesty and confirms our feelings that here lies corruption very deep indeed. Rousing, worrying and well shot, just perhaps a little too driven for such a seeming simple notion.


This 1970s Italian political drama opens with a compelling murder live show, a dapper man, Volonté (the head of homicide squad) artfully kills his erotic mistress (Bolken) with a sharp blade, and what's befuddling the viewers is after that, Volonté intentionally leaves many traces which could be implicated to him at the scene of the crime, all the more a face-to-face encounter with a witness when he leaves the building. Naturally, one has to divine his motivation of his deviant contrivances, but the film doesn't opt to give a straightforward answer to the illogicality, instead it unwinds itself into a sociological tirade aiming at the blazon compliance of the ruling power echelon, Volonté has been promoted to a more authoritarian post, politics-oriented, and the cover-up process degrades the whole investigation into a farce, lushly recorded by the agile camera. Arguably, this is Elio Petri's most famous film, an Oscar's BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM crowner, and won him 2 awards in CANNES that year, Petri may not occupy an international cachet so high as his Italian peers, but the film can potently justify his talent, it is an authentic gas, wonderfully designed camera-work with a great architectonic predilection, astute sense of unpicking the tacit phone-interception dirty business, a twitchy sensibility towards the rotten authorities, and upbraids an undeniable self-awareness of being politically-biased.Volonté is tailor-made for the leading role, a typical male chauvinist, over-cocksure by appearance while underneath he is a man haunted by his impotence and jealousy (Bolken has mentioned a few times he is only a child which effectively irritates him), although ambiguous about the raison d'être of his act, Volonté is confident, menacing and impressive out of his common Spaghetti image. Bolken is billed as the co-lead, but mostly appears in flashback and the film has curtailed her character to a sexy trophy, a power-worshipper and a dispensable pawn whose stupidity overshadows her own demise, nevertheless she is a stunner in all her shots. The standout of the all-male supporting cast is Salvo Randone as an innocent plumber, who caves in poignantly in front of power, a bona-fide scene stealer. Last but not the least is Ennio Morricone's score, the repeated motif has a synthesized rhythm, catchy and indelible, throughout the film, it renders the film a touch of ridicule and never leave any chance for the audiences to be bored by the doctrinal tone the film unintentionally betrays.


First of all he deliberately kills Augusta Terzi to prove that he's untouchable, that's not an accident. You can discover along the film that there are many more reasons: he wants to test system ability to find and punish everyone who acts against State's power (it doesn't matter if you're a socialist or a killer), he wants to punish her as she's a decadent whore with no moral sense, he wants to punish one of her anarchic lovers, he wants to punish anarchy in general. This is a deep movie based on 70's Italian society, the "Brigate Rosse" and "State terrorism" period . In the main character you can find all the contrasts of that time.


When the movie starts, a man meets with his lover, and while they begin to have sex, he slits her throat. After washing in the bathroom, he's careful to leave his foot and fingerprints in conspicuous places, and places a thread from his tie under his victim's fingernails.We then learn that he is the chief of homicide, who's been promoted to a job in political intelligence. The questions remain, why did he murder her, and why did he leave clues implicating himself?Through flashbacks, we get some idea of what his relationship with the woman was. We also see that some other people become suspects. However, he is in charge of the investigation, and periodically presents even more evidence pointing to himself.An unusual story. I'm not sure I understood the ending. The video I watched was dubbed in English, and subtitled in Dutch. Perhaps if there is a release of a copy in Italian with new English subtitles, it will be possible to understand the story better.