Posted by: januzzi | March 13, 2009

Januzzi screenplay / Lino Januzzi

Movie Review
July 10, 1981
FILM: AN ITALIAN PUZZLE, ‘ILLUSTRIOUS CORPSES’; Tale of Revenge
Published: July 10, 1981

ILLUSTRIOUS CORPSES (Cadaveri Eccellenti), directed by Francesco Rosi; screenplay (Italian with English subtitles) by Mr. Rosi, Tonino Guerra and Lino Januzzi, based on the novel, ”The Context,” by Leonardo Sciascia; executive producer, Alberto Grimaldi; director of photography, Pasquale De Santis; editor, Ruggero Mastroianni; music, Piero Piccioni and Astor Piazzolla; a co-production of Produzioni Europea Associate (Rome) and Les Artistes Associes (Paris). Running time: 121 minutes. At the Thalia, Broadway at 95th Street.Inspector RogasLino Ventura Procura VargaCharles Vanel Minister of SecurityFernando Rey Chief JusticeMax Von Sydow Police ChiefTino Carraro Unemployed manMarcel Bozzuffi Dr. MaxiePacio Bonacelli Judge RastoAlain Cuny Mrs. CresMaria Carta CusanLuigi Pistilli ProstituteTina Aumont Police CommissionerRenato Salvatori GalanoPablo Graziosi

”Illustrious Corpses” (Cadaveri Eccellenti) was shown at the 1976 New York Film Festival at Alice Tully Hall. Following are excerpts from a review by Vincent Canby in the New York Times of Oct. 6, 1976. This film opens today at the Thalia.

MORE and more, Francesco Rosi, the Italian director of such politically conscious films as ”Salvatore Giuliano,” ”Hands Upon the City” and the recent ”The Mattei Affair,” has come to construct his movies as if they were jig-saw puzzles from which key pieces must remain missing. This is not because he hasn’t a very good idea what the missing pieces are, but because he thinks that to supply them would dampen the specualation he means to stir up.

Sometimes, as in the case of ”The Mattei Affair,” this works. But then ”The Mattei Affair” was based on the life of an Italian industrialist who died under circumstances that have never been satisfactorily explained. In the newest Rosi film, ”Illustrious Corpses” (”Cadaveri Eccellenti”), the method is self-defeating. It stirs up not speculation but suspicions that the completed picture is artificially made more complex and provocative than its missing pieces would have revealed it to be.

Until one realizes that one has been manipulated to rather predictable ends, ”Illustrious Corpses” is a dazzling example of fashionably radical Italian film making – elegantly composed, breathlessly paced, photographed in the beautiful, drained colors of a landscape in mourning for the sun.

The setting of ”Illustrious Corpses” seems to be Sicily, though it’s never identified, which allows the director to create a fictious capitalistic social-political structure that cannot be immediately criticized for not being accurately Italian. Wherever it is, corruption and conspiracies are rampant, the poor are getting poorer, the rich are getting richer.

The film begins effectively enough. A prominent prosecutor is murdered. Several days later, a prominent judge is similarly assassinated. Later another judge, and another. The country is thrown into disorder. Inspector Rogas (Lino Ventura), a creased, tired policeman from a more conventional mystery melodrama, investigates and becomes convinced that a man, who was once wrongly convicted and sent to prison, is carrying but a campaign of revenge.

”Illustrious Corpses” is full of individually arresting details, such as a sequence shot in an ancient catacomb and a scene in which Max Von Sydow, as the mad chief justice, explains that when a judge ”celebrates the law” he is like a priest celebrating mass and thus incapable of error.

All of these arresting details and bizarre characters don’t eventually add up to much more than an indictment of government that’s so broad, so general, it has no particular force. The end effect is trivial

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