How to Kill a Judge / Perché si uccide un magistrato (1974)

3.5 out of 5

Franco Nero plays Giacomo Solaris, a film director whose latest opus features a caricature of a prominent public prosecutor, who is assassinated in the narrative. Life imitates art when the target of his satire is found murdered, a circumstance which serves to render his movie a instant hit at the box office.

Unlike many of the film's viewers, who revel in what they see as a corrupt judge's comeuppance, Solaris is horrified enough to start an investigation into the murder himself and, in doing so, he not only becomes involved with the dead man's wife, Françoise Fabian, but ultimately finds himself forced to make an uncomfortable trade-off.

Sometimes feeling a little like a long episode of Columbo, the film may seem incredibly slow going to those expecting Eurocrime action in the vein of the same year's Nero-starrer Street Law. However, that's not to say that it isn't a respectably good drama that blurs the line between politician and gangster, if one can be said to exist in the first place.

Better known to English speakers as How to Kill a Judge, Damiano Damiani's film is another allegorical representation of the political scene of the period, coming from the same concerns that gave shape to Petri's Investigation of a Citizen above Suspicion. Both films find an interesting modern counterpart in the recent Il divo, which was able to explicitly document the real corruption that they, like Giacomo Solaris' film-within-a-film, could only suggest. In turn, the recent film uses this history to make parallels with today's rather sinister administration.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics