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Review: Un maledetto imbroglio – The Facts of Murder (1959)

Directed by: Pietro Germi | 115 minutes | drama, crime | Actors: Pietro Germi, Claudia Cardinale, Franco Fabrizi, Cristina Gaioni, Claudio Gora, Eleonora Rossi Drago, Saro Urzì, Nino Castelnuovo, Ildebrando Santafe, Peppino De Martino, Silla Bettini, Rosolino Bua, Loretta Capitoli, Nanda De Santis, Gianni Musi

The Italian director did not build up a worthless resume in the 1940s to 1970s. Films such as the neo-realistic drama ‘Il cammino della speranza’ and the infectious comedy ‘Divorzio all’Italiana’ are among the highlights of Italian film history. Germi showed that he could handle different themes, always filmed with style and a healthy dose of self-confidence. With ‘Un maledetto imbroglio’ he opts for a mix of Maigret, noir and a hint of comedy. Germi himself plays the leading role.

He plays the Commissioner Ciccio Ingravallo, who is simultaneously investigating a murder and a burglary. Two separate crimes, but just happen to be in the same apartment. Of course, Ingravallo soon suspects a connection. But exactly how the fork sticks in the stem remains a mystery. With multiple suspects, almost everyone appears to be hiding something.

The different characters form the backbone of ‘Un maledetto imbroglio’. Where the story sometimes threatens to get lost, Ingravallo, his colleagues, the various suspects and other figures form a fascinating and entertaining certainty. Germi plays Ingravallo convincingly. With cigar in hand and sunglasses on his head, he tackles in a smart, cool and above all human way. excels as the murdered woman’s husband, who is clearly devastated but still seems to be hiding a secret. and are also doing very well as a somewhat timid and serious woman and an opportunistic doctor in training respectively. Commissioner Saro (Saro Urzì, also seen in ‘Il cammino della speranza’) provides the airy note.

‘The Commissioner has a hard time’ was the title of ‘Un maledetto imbroglio’ when the film was released in cinemas in 1961. The spectator also had a hard time, according to the newspaper Vaderland. Indeed, quite a bit is happening. The not too simple plot unfolds rapidly and those who do not stay focused will soon lose their way. The final punch line does not break many pots. But the quality lies in the rich social characterizations and strong design. Germi’s confident style with ever-smooth editing and well-timed humor works great and the acting is superb. And as for the story, don’t be alarmed. Sometimes things are simpler than they seem.

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