Pic is dramatically effective in its obvious, stacked assault on petty dictators with a life-and-death grip over human beings. And principally because of Gian Maria Volonte’s resounding performance as a homicide chief who commits a murder out of Freudian shortcomings and then deliberately points the finger of guilt at himself to prove that his power position places him above the law.
Crime takes place in opening reel shortly before the chief is promoted and transferred to head up the key desk of political crime investigation. Thereafter the story, via interspersed flashbacks, creates a climate of depraved fantasy to shed light on his relationship with the murdered woman August (Florinda Balkan), while the film otherwise proceeds with stark realism to focus on the investigating sleuths manipulated at will by their power-conscious superiors.
Balkan probably gives her best performance to date to create a woman tormented by instability, sexual drive and psycho demons – disjointedly portrayed in the script. Secondary characters, except for Salvo Randone as an innocent pawn, all play their roles broadly as manipulated underlings.
Ennio Morricone’s score is good but somewhat reminiscent of past Neopolitan pix and a bit repetitious.
1970: Best Foreign Language Film