Director: Romolo Guerrieri
TRASH CINEMA RECOMMENDED MOVIE
Inspector Michele Parrino (movingly played by Enrico Maria Salerno) is sick at heart (literally — he has a bum ticker). Parrino spends his days investigating petty crime and cleaning up sordid messes: a robbery of a jewelry shop that nets the thieves just enough moolah for a night on the town and results in the death of the elderly proprietor; the suicide of a young boy with a lousy report card; the strangling death of a young girl. Despite Parrino’s best efforts, it’s all an exercise in futility.
When someone expounds on the epidemic of crime, Parinno has a response: “You want to talk about criminality? Let’s talk. Let’s say things as they are. Dear God. Let’s start with the oil barons…The doctors, the pharmaceutical companies, tax evaders…Building speculators, the ones who send their money abroad. Then we can talk about criminality. They do more damage in one year than all the criminals on the street in a century.”
It takes a while for Un Uomo Una Citta Bubi aka A City Under Siege to take shape. The first half hour or so seems anecdotal and aimless. The attempts at humor and charm fall flat.
But finally Inspector Parrino stumbles on a real case, a connection to the corruption at the heart of the ruling class, and the movie takes on some urgency.
You’ve got to give credit to screenwriters Nico Ducci and Mino Roli (adapting the novel by Riccardo Marcato and Pietro Novelli). They have a clear eyed understanding of the mechanics of society. Through the character of an alcoholic newspaper reporter (Luciano Salce), we see revealed the mainstream press, which distracts the public with private tragedy and petty crime, while remaining mute about the crimes of the rich. After all, the poor have no recourse if newspapers print lies and invade their privacy. The rich can always sue.
As for the police, as Inspector Parrino puts it: “Yes, every now and then one of us, or some young judge…goes after one of the big shots, but then, for some reason…It all gets archived after six months.”
As you might have gathered, Un Uomo Una Citta Bubi isn’t exactly a barrel of laughs. Despite the random attempts at levity, it’s a mournful dirge for a society in the iron gripe of the rich, or in the words of Inspector Parrino, “Tell me what’s changed…in your modern, civil, aristocratic Turin? Wasn’t the press the monopoly of the intellectuals? The nobles. The clergy. Has anything changed? Our children live in medieval times, and we’re still blindfolded. It’s time to wake up, dear God!”
Dear God, indeed.