Archive of films Assassin / L' assassino

1961, 98 min

Section: Tribute to Elio Petri
Year: 2014

In this Kafkaesque detective flick, which marked Elio Petri’s debut as a director, Marcello Mastroianni portrays an unscrupulous Roman antique dealer who is accused of murdering one of his lovers. "I was touched and proud when, years later, I saw a poster for this film hanging in Martin Scorsese’s Hollywood home,” said Mastroianni.


"I met screenwriter Elio Petri during the shooting of Days of Love when he was assistant to Giuseppe De Santis. We immediately became friends. A few years later Elio brought me a script that seemed incredibly intelligent and original,” stated Marcello Mastroianni during a speech for Petri’s debut, which appeared in Italian theaters in the same year as Michelangelo Antonioni’s La Notte. In The Assassin the movie star plays Nello Poletti, an unscrupulous Roman antiques dealer who is accused of murdering one of his lovers, a wealthy middle-aged woman named Adalgisa (Micheline Presle). Petri’s Kafkaesque detective flick dramatizes his bitterness over the moral decay of early 1960s youth, but he does so with a refreshing irony that he himself described as Camusesque. Built upon a generic frame, this character study unfolds in flashbacks "sent” from the police station where Inspector Palumbo (Salvo Randone), whose unorthodox methods arise from personal antipathy toward the dandy, interrogates a confused Poletti. The first feature from a man who criticized bureaucratic abuses and corruption, The Assassin bumped up against the resistance of censors who were less than pleased with the depiction of the relationship between the individual and authority. Today, however, the film is one of the most highly respected Italian debuts of the 1960s – in Mastroianni’s words: "I was touched and proud when, years later, I saw a poster for the movie hanging in Martin Scorsese’s Hollywood home.”


Cineteca di Bologna
Via dell'Industria 2, 40138, Bologna
Tel: +39 051 601 8607
E-mail: [email protected]

Via Eustachio Manfredi 15, 00197, Rome
Tel: +39 064 577 7930
E-mail: [email protected]

About the film

Black & white, DCP

Section: Tribute to Elio Petri
Director: Elio Petri
Screenplay: Elio Petri, Tonino Guerra, Pasquale Festa Campanile, Massimo Franciosa
Dir. of Photography: Carlo Di Palma
Music: Piero Piccioni
Editor: Ruggero Mastroianni
Producer: Franco Cristaldi
Production: Vides Cinematografica
Coproduction: Titanus
Cast: Marcello Mastroianni, Micheline Presle, Salvo Randone
Contact: Cineteca di Bologna, Intramovies


Paola Pegoraro


Milena Gregor

Film Institution Rep.

Manuela Tambascia

Distributor, Sales Agent


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