The Ladykiller / L’assassino / The Assassin (1961) Elio Petri, Marcello Mastroianni, Micheline Presle, Cristina Gaioni, Crime, Thriller

The Assassin (1961)
Alfredo Martelli is picked up by the police in his apartment without justification. In the precinct, he slowly discovers what is the investigation about as we find out details about his life.

Director: Elio Petri
Cast: Marcello Mastroianni, Micheline Presle, Cristina Gaioni, Salvo Randone, Andrea Checchi, Francesco Grandjacquet, Marco Mariani, Franco Ressel, Mac Ronay, Toni Ucci, Max Cartier, Bruno Scipioni, Giovanna Gagliardo, Liana Ferri, Carlo Egidi, Eugenio Maggi, Ubaldo Micacchi, Silvio Bastianelli, Paolo Panelli, Franco Freda, Giuliano Montaldo, Enrico Maria Salerno, Corrado Zingaro

Elio Petri’s ‘L’Assassino’ is not a film I knew very little about going into it. I rarely read plot synopsis or blurbs on the back of dvds, I prefer going into films cold because I cannot say that my expectations will never be let down. I did however expect a film about assassins and hitmen, Marcello Mastroianni would make a cool hitman after all. It becomes apparent soon into the film that this film is less about assassins and more about character assassinations.

The film is clearly a critique of a political nature. Marcello Mastroianni plays a wealthy antiques dealer, taken in by police over the murder of a women he had relations with. He maintains his innocence throughout but the police continue to turn the screw on him, slowly breaking him down by taking him to the scene of the crime and locking him up with men who are placed there to encourage him to confess. Throughout this there is flashbacks that work to fill in the blanks of his actions in the build up, making us question his validity.

In the end it is proven that someone else was guilty of the crime and things go back to normal but it is interesting to see how an accusation such as the severity of murder can have on a man. Mastroianni plays it such that you can see guilt and suspicion in some of his actions but they are not for the reasons you would be led to believe. But this is the thing, he is made to act guilty by the mere tactics of the police who constantly act to establish his guilt. I know if I was locked up in a room waiting for police to interrogate me I would probably start to get fidgety too! Add in some of the smaller elements of his life, some of the elements of guilt or shame he feels over other issues soon come out to make him look guilty, of what it matters not, the police see what they want to see and make the links that they want to make. In the end the innocent man has had his name trodden in the mud, his face in the paper, his reputation destroyed only for the police to be satisfied in their own job in the matter being complete.

The film becomes more interesting as it goes on, as Mastroianni becomes slowly exhausted by the police interrogations of him. He really is an iconic presence. The film itself is not the best one I have seen with him in it but then again some of those films rank as some of the most iconic of all time. ‘L’Assassino’ is a solid enough film, a precursor for Petri’s future work on ‘Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion’ perhaps (Alas I haven’t seen that much revered film) but it isn’t a classic film, merely a pretty good one.

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DVD9 | VIDEO_TS | PAL | 16:9 | 720×576 | 6000 kbps | 6.5Gb
Audio: Italian AC3 1.0 @ 448 Kbps | Subtitles: English, French
01:37:00 | Italy, France | Crime, Thriller


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