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Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion [1970]

Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion [1970]: This dramatic black-humored political satire follows the head detective of the homicide division, simply referred to as The Inspector and Il Dottore, challenging the justice system to prove that he is truly above suspicion. From his murder of his lover to the investigation, we see policemen, investigators, and citizens alike either knowingly or not turn a blind eye to the evidence that obviously points to Il Dottore. Gian Maria Volontè, known for A Fistful of Dollars [1964] and For a Few Dollars More [1965], plays The Detective. Director Elio Petri is provocative, and his work bites deep into the politics and corruption of the time. This is the first installment of Elio Petri's Trilogy of Neurosis, later followed by The Working Class Goes to Heaven [1971] and Property Is No Longer a Theft [1973].

Father or Child? Throughout the film, Il Dottore faces the internal struggle of being the "father", testing the police force to see if he is actually above suspicion; or being the "child", weak yet animated, begging for the police to recognize his crime. It is this struggle the Volontè's acting really shines through. In just one scene, he can go from yelling about the evidence that points at him to a calm and collected when other investigators wouldn't dare to ever consider him as guilty.

Personification of Fascism. When The Inspector is being the “father”, he goes on passionate tirades painting images of protesters becoming children under the eye of the law and him being the father. His authoritarian viewpoint brings him to lead suspicion to young protesters that he recognizes as a threat to his fascist beliefs, similar to the Organizzazione per la Vigilanza e la Repressione dell'Antifascismo (OVRA) that were under Benito Mussolini’s regime.

Exaggerated Beyond Belief. When discussing this film, it is impossible to avoid the impassioned speeches that Il Dottore goes on. With the film being in Italian, the musicality of the language is amplified to a point where it can be comedic. Speaking of comedy, the dramatic irony in this movie is hilarious and is effectively used to magnify the undoubting loyalty that other investigators have for The Inspector.

 

Elio Petri made a political satire that is well meditated and pulls no punches when it comes to the ones he criticizes.

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Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion [1970]
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