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Saturday, April 15, 2017

L'Assassino (1961)

An antiques dealer (Marcello Mastroianni) is arrested on suspicion of murdering his mistress (Micheline Presle). The evidence against him is circumstantial but it begins a Kafkaesque nightmare of police harassment and abuse of power. Directed by Elio Petri (INVESTIGATION OF A CITIZEN ABOVE SUSPICION), the film is interesting in that its protagonist isn't so much an "innocent" man as how he is judged by his lifestyle. He's duplicitous, a liar, an opportunist, no moral backbone and a rotten son. Clearly he's guilty of a great many things but does that make him a killer? And the film's ending may be the most ambiguous since BASIC INSTINCT! But it's not the character's guilt or innocence that interests Petri but rather the police state's and society's presumptions of guilt. Even if one is just accused, can one ever get rid of the "Oh yes, he's the one that was arrested for that murder" taint? Mastroianni gives a fine performance, deftly keeping the viewer unsure of his guilt but ready to convict him of his moral crimes. The jazzy score is by Piero Piccioni. With Andrea Checchi, Salvo Randone and Cristina Gaioni.

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