The most American of directors according to celebrated critic Paolo Mereghetti, Damiano Damiani (A Bullet for the General) nevertheless surveyed his own country’s mafia history unlike anyone before him, to critical and box office success. Three such classic films are collected in this Blu-ray box set, presented from new restorations.
The Day of the Owl stars Franco Nero (Django) as a police chief who, while investigating the death of a construction worker, goes up against corrupt officials and a ruthless mafia boss (Lee J. Cobb, On the Waterfront). Adapted from the celebrated novel by Leonardo Sciascia (Illustrious Corpses, Todo Modo), The Day of the Owl was the first book to openly deal with organised/organized crime in Sicily. Director Damiano Damiani followed in the civic-minded cinema of Francesco Rosi and Elio Petri while forging a new path for the action-orientated cinema of the poliziottesco that would follow, creating something uniquely his own. A prestigious production, it was in the running for best film at the Berlin Film Festival and at home won David di Donatello Awards for stars Nero and Claudia Cardinale, along with Damiani (A Bullet for the General), and Best Film.
Franco Nero stars as an architect thrown in jail for a misdemeanour/misdemeanor in The Case is Closed: Forget It. Inside, he sees the grim reality of life behind bars, faced with corrupt guards and a prison yard ruled by the mafia. Damiano Damiani continues his exploration of mafia stories with this gritty prison drama. Nero gives a sympathetic performance as the honest man, while support is given by noted character actors including Riccardo Cucciola (Rabid Dogs) as another innocent and John Steiner (Tenebrae) as a psychotic killer. With Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion and Damiani’s own Confessions of a Police Captain, this exploration of authority and corruption was as critical as the era’s finest work and ranks alongside the best Italian genre films of the 1970s.
In How to Kill a Judge, Franco Nero plays filmmaker Giacomo Solaris, whose latest film features a judge corrupted by the mafia and who is later killed. The real judge the character is based on seizes the film but is later found murdered. Feeling a degree of responsibility, Solaris investigates through his police and mafia advisors, but as the assassinations increase around him, will he reach the source of the conspiracy? Full of twists and a fascinating meta-commentary on cinema that derives from a highly personal approach to the subject matter inspired by real-life events, director Damiano Damiani points the camera at himself and the genre in this fascinating exploration of the social impact of mafia violence, a fitting end to this survey of Damiani’s Cosa Nostra.
Blu-ray Limited Edition Box Set Special Features:
2K restoration of The Day of the Owl from the original negative presented in the original Italian version (109 mins) and the shorter export cut with English audio (103 mins)
2K restoration of The Case is Closed: Forget It from the original negative presented with Italian and, for the first time, English audio options
2K restoration of How to Kill a Judge from the original negative presented in Italian and English audio options
Original uncompressed mono PCM audio
New interview with star Franco Nero, featuring archive footage of Damiano Damiani and Leonardo Sciascia discussing The Day of the Owl (2022, 17 mins)
Archival interview with Franco Nero, writer Ugo Pirro and production manager Lucio Trentini discussing the making of The Day of the Owl (2006, 27 mins)
Identity Crime-Sis: filmmaker and Italian crime cinema expert Mike Malloy discusses The Day of the Owl in the context of the formation of the Italian crime film genre (2022, 20 mins)
Casting Cobb: A Tale of Two Contents: A video essay by filmmaker Howard S. Berger looking at actor Lee J. Cobb's career transition from Hollywood to Italy and the archetypes he tended to play (2023, 33 mins)
Archival interview with Claudia Cardinale from Belgian TV in which she discusses her long and storied career (2017, 22 mins)
New interview with star Franco Nero discussing The Case is Closed: Forget It (2022, 14 mins)
Archival documentary on the making of The Case is Closed: Forget It featuring actor Corrado Solari, assistant director Enrique Bergier and editor Antonio Siciliano (2015, 28 mins)
Italy’s Cinematic Civil Conscience: An Examination of the Life and Works of Damiano Damiani: A visual essay on the career of Damiani Damiani by critic Rachael Nisbet (2023, 35 mins)
New interview with star Franco Nero discussing How to Kill a Judge (2022, 13 mins)
New interview with Alberto Pezzotta, author of Regia Damiano Damiani, who discusses Damiani’s contribution to the mafia and crime genres and the reception of his films in Italy (2022, 34 mins)
Lessons in Violence: A new video essay on the film by filmmaker David Cairns (2023, 22 mins)
Original trailers for each film
New and improved optional English subtitles for Italian audio and English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for English audio for each film
Reversible sleeve featuring designs based on original posters for each film
Limited edition 120-page book featuring new and archival writing on the films by experts on the genre including Andrew Nette on Leonardo Sciascia’s The Day of the Owl; Piero Garofalo on The Case is Closed: Forget It; Paul A. J. Lewis on depictions of the mafia in each of the films within this set; Shelley O’Brien on each of the scores; a newly translated archival interview with Damiani; Nathaniel Thompson on Franco Nero; Marco Natoli on Damiani’s place within the cinema politico movement in Italian cinema; a critical overview for each the films by Cullen Gallagher and credits for each film
Limited edition of 3000 copies (each for the UK and US), presented in a rigid box with removable OBI strip leaving packaging free of certificates and markings