Rosi, a Neapolitan filmmaker, was the great man of the “film-dossier” in Italy. With, it must be said, more or less happiness. The double recovery in the room this week proves it. battery side, Exquisite Corpse (1976), adapted from Leonardo Sciascia, yet considered a great Rosi, turns out to be quite starchy, even though its paranoid and ghostly structure produces excellent moments of cinema. In Naples, a police inspector (Lino Ventura) still believing in his country’s judicial system is in charge of an investigation into a series of murders targeting judges. As it progresses, he comes up against the moral corruption and diffuse Machiavellianism which deeply plague the Italy of the years of lead, in all parties and all institutions, his own included.
Beyond the courage of its subject, this film, “europudding” before the letter, seems to fall from the planet Mars. Alain Cuny, Max von Sydow, Fernando Rey, Marcel Bozzuffi, Charles Vanel, Lino Ventura, all dubbed in Italian – with the exception of Ventura, who speaks it, and Vanel, who dies before speaking – seem wander around as simple visitors in a plot so suffocating and twisted that the spectator ends up losing his footing.
Hands down on the city (1963), which pinpoints, fifteen years earlier, the concussions of the economic boom, is of another magnitude. At its center, the so-called Nottola, a crooked real estate entrepreneur played by the brilliant American Rod Steiger. Which, by giving the order to destroy a dilapidated building in old Naples, collapses the adjacent building, for lack of compliance with safety standards. The scandal immediately reflects on the town hall, where Nottola, fortunately, is also a municipal councilor, a member of the right-wing majority in power. Alongside this embarrassing incident for the authorities, the re-election of the mayor is on the agenda.
An impressive expressive force
The film also follows in parallel the appointment and the work of a commission of inquiry supposed to find out the truth about the accident, and the feverish maneuvers which oppose the parties present for the conquest of the town hall. What Rosi demonstrates is that the two parts of his film are, in truth, closely linked. Naples, a city heavily bombed during the Second World War, was, in these post-war years, an open-air construction site. The opportunities to get rich quickly and massively are colossal, real estate speculation is going well, inducing a shameless collusion between public power and private enterprise.
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