Elio Petri

  • Elio Petri – A ciascuno il suo AKA We Still Kill the Old Way (1967)

    1961-1970DramaElio PetriItalyMystery

    Sicilia, late ’60s. Two men are killed during a hunting party. The hurried inquiry indicates that it was a killing made for ‘honor’ reasons. Paolo Laurana is a leftist professor not convinced of the official truth and starts investigating by himself. He finds some help from a solicitor, Mr. Rosello. While investigating, he is fascinated by Luisa, the widow of one of the victims. But the reality is too different from what Laurana could imagine. Reality includes not only the mafia and corrupt politicians, but also Church connections. The reality is that there could be only one end for Laurana. It won’t take long. [IMDb.com]Read More »

  • Elio Petri – La proprietà non è più un furto aka Property Is No Longer a Theft (1973)

    1971-1980ComedyDramaElio PetriItaly

    Money (and private property) is definitely the root of all evil in this eccentric work, the third film in a loose trilogy on “social schizophrenia” that also includes Petri’s Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion and The Working Class Goes to Heaven. Making expressionist use of Brechtian monologues, stylized montage, and character types, this barbed satire concerns a lowly bank clerk (Bucci), literally allergic to money and revolted by its nefarious influence on humanity, who launches a campaign of harassment against a wealthy butcher (Tognazzi), stealing small, insignificant items— but never money—from the man. The victim uses the thefts to make large and fraudulent insurance claims, refusing to finger the thief for fear his own financial improprieties might be exposed.Read More »

  • Elio Petri – I giorni contati AKA His Days Are Numbered (1962)

    1961-1970ClassicsDramaElio PetriItaly

    Never released in America, Petri’s second feature displays the same evocative mix of realism and symbolism found in THE LADY KILLER OF ROME. Cowritten by the prominent scenarist Tonino Guerra (a favorite collaborator of Petri, Antonioni, Rosi, and other Italian luminaries), the film stars Salvo Randone as Cesare, a lonely Roman plumber in his early fifties. Traveling by tram one day, he witnesses the sudden death, by heart attack, of a man his own age. The event shocks him into the realization that his own days might be numbered, and he becomes determined to make the most of the time he has left. Quitting his job, he sets out with enthusiasm to enjoy the finer things in life, but the effort only leaves him dispirited and disillusioned.Read More »

  • Elio Petri – Buone notizie AKA Good News (1979)

    1971-1980ComedyDramaElio PetriItaly

    “Only for those abnormal” (an IMDB review by RodrigAndrisani)

    The music for this film is composed by the greatest composer of film music of all time, Ennio Morricone. But it’s almost nonexistent and as little as it is, it’s not great. Deliberately maybe, because the subject itself, with capital M, is Madness, The Madness of Humanity. Place of the action: the crazy world we live in, a world where those who do not kill, do not use drugs, etc., are abnormal. Here’s what the director Elio Petri himself says, in his book “The adventurous history of Italian cinema”: “It’s a film about the société du spectacle. In the society of the spectacle it’s not the spectacle of life, there is only the show that gives you the impression that you live, while you don’t live from long time ago.Read More »

  • Elio Petri – Indagine su un cittadino al di sopra di ogni sospetto AKA AKA Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (1970)

    1961-1970ArthouseElio PetriItalyPolitics

    A paranoid police procedural, a perverse parable about the corrupting elements of power, and a candidate for the greatest predated Patriot Act movie ever, Elio Petri’s stunning thriller makes no attempt to hide the culprit behind the film’s grisly murder: It wants you to know that Gian Maria Volonté’s dapper killer is responsible for the beautiful corpse splayed out on those black silk bedsheets. The shocks here are (a) that the spaghetti-Western stalwart isn’t wearing a cowboy hat for once, and (b) that Volonté is not just the criminal, he’s also the homicide detective heading up the investigation. Deliberately hiding some clues while planting others in plain sight—bloody footprints, a strand of his tie purposefully inserted under her fingernails—the rising-up-the-precinct-ladder cop plays a game of cat-versus-other-dumber-cats, all while ordering copious wiretaps and amassing blackmail fodder against radical agitators. Is he toying with his fellow officers to demonstrate his sociopathic superiority? Or is he trying to take down a rotten system from the inside, debunking the notion that any citizen is above suspicion?Read More »

  • Elio Petri – L’assassino AKA The Ladykiller of Rome (1961)

    1961-1970ComedyCrimeElio PetriItaly


    The film is a frequently clever examination of a cynical social climber who finds himself in trouble. Arrested at his home and complete with a phoney alibi to cover his infidelity, our antique-dealer hero soon learns that he’s under suspicion for having murdered his ex-lover. Unfortunately for him, he’s not noted for his loving-kindness (he takes financial advantage of the desperate as he relieves them of their valuables) and is, romantically speaking, a cad, having exploited the soon-to-be-deceased lover for career purposes while romancing a younger bubblehead under her nose. All of this inhumanity seems to point to his being the killer, plunging him into a Kafka-lite nightmare that forces him to face up to his own brutishness.Read More »

  • Elio Petri – La classe operaia va in paradiso AKA The Working Class Goes to Heaven (1971)

    1971-1980DramaElio PetriItalyThe Films of May '68


    “Lulu the Tool” is no more descriptive a title for Elio Petri’s Italian social drama that opened yesterday at the D. W. Griffith Cinema than “La Classe Operaia Va in Paradiso” (“The Working Class Goes to Heaven”), the title under which it shared (with “The Mattei Affair”) the grand prize of the 1972 Cannes Film Festival. But if neither tag is memorable, there is little doubt that the director-writer, whose convictions are Communist, has projected a cynical view of the worker’s lot that is both fascinating and sobering.

    Mr. Petri, who scored with his 1970 dissection of police authority in “Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion,” has again joined Ugo Pirro in writing the script. With Gian Maria Volonte, the top cop in “Investigation,” he points up the Kafkalike condition of “Lulu.”Read More »

  • Elio Petri – Todo modo (1976)

    1971-1980ArthouseDramaElio PetriItaly

    Set at an indeterminate time in the near future, this routine, well-acted drama by Elio Petri tackles favorite Italian topics: religion and politics. A bit of macabre fantasy is added to the mix, but the end product remains somewhat muddled. Don Gaetano (Marcello Mastroianni) is a priest who is supervising a group of Christian Democrats on a religious retreat. The objective is to help these politicians purify their past wrongdoings, no matter how large or small, and live closer to God. The retreat takes place in a concrete bunker with plenty of small rooms for contemplation and icons set here and there to offer inspiration. Once the retreat begins, the politicos alarmingly begin to die off one by one. Don Gaetano wants them to get closer to God but did he mean that close?Read More »

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