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Cosa Nostra: Franco Nero in Three Mafia Tales by Damiano Damiani (Blu-ray Review)

REVIEW OVERVIEW

The Film (The Day of the Owl)
The Film (The Case is Closed: Forget It)
The Film (How to Kill a Judge)
The Video (The Day of the Owl)
The Video (The Case is Closed: Forget It)
The Video (How to Kill a Judge)
The Audio (All Films)
The Supplements
Overall

SUMMARY

Three classic, gritty mania crime dramas directed by Damiano Damiani and starrring Franco Nero are collected on three Blu-ray Discs.

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

With Cosa Nostra: Franco Nero in Three Mafia Tales by Damiano Damiani Radiance Films has collected three poliziotteschi starring genre star Franco Nero and directed by Damiano Damiani. Eschewing his western film persona as developed in films like Django (1966), and Texas, Adios (1966), Nero dons an equally enigmatic and gruff manner in more – at the time – contemporary settings.

The Day of the Owl (Il Giorno Della Civetta) finds Nero in a violent crime drama set in a mafia-run Sicily. While investigating the death of a construction worker, he discovers the heavy influence of the mafia on the society and their sway over his investigation. The beautiful Claudia Cardinale stars as the widow who knows more than she is letting on. The film is a slow burn, gritty drama that delves into the tight-lipped nature of communities unwilling to cross the organized crime bosses wielding control of the government and town. Nero is icy cold against the sensual Cardinale.

In The Case is Closed: Forget It Nero plays an educated upper middle-class man who is sent to jail for a traffic violation. Inside he is confronted with the grim realities of prison and the class discrimination rampant in society at large as he is given every opportunity and expected to be better than the working-class people with whom he is imprisoned. Nero is a more sympathetic character in this film, showing a more vulnerable persona and wider range. The story also serves to advance the ideas of Damiani’s political beliefs.

Finally, in How to Kill a Judge, Nero plays a filmmaker whose latest film portrays a judge under the thumb of the mafia who is found murdered. The story in his film closely mirrors the story of a real life judge whose murder mirrors what happened in the film. This multilayered, movie-inside-a-movie is not only filled with crime and violence, but an undercurrent of dark humor making it the most inventive if not quite as influential of the three films in this collection.

  • Franco Nero in How to Kill a Judge (1975)
  • How to Kill a Judge (1975)
  • Franco Nero in How to Kill a Judge (1975)
  • Cosa Nostra _RAD014BDLE (Radiance Films)
  • Cosa Nostra _RAD014BDLE (Radiance Films)
  • Cosa Nostra _RAD014BDLE (Radiance Films)

The Video

Each film in this Cosa Nostra collection was scanned and restored in 2K from the original camera negatives at Studio Cine, Rome (The Day of the Owl) and Augustus Color, Rome (The Case is Closed, How to Kill a Judge). Additional restoration work and color grading was performed by Radiance Films in 2022 for The Case is Closed and How to Kill a Judge.  Each film is provided in a 1.85:1 AVC 1080p encodement on an individual Blu-ray disc.

There is natural grain and good color on each disc, with The Day of the Owl and How to Kill a Judge looking a notch better as far as overall crispness and nuance in the shadows. Color comes across naturally and looks in line with the color palettes of Italian films of the era and 1970s films in a broader sense.

The Audio

Radiance restored the original Italian and English mono soundtracks in 2022 and 2023. The soundtracks are included in LPCM 2.0. There is little in the way of dynamic range, but the sound for each film is relatively clean with intelligible dialogue. Overall sound levels are kind of low, but there is nothing egregious in the sound, which seems authentic and natural.

The Supplements

As has been the modus operandi for Radiance since they first began releasing a short while ago, each of these films gets a high-quality collection of bonus features including new interviews with Franco Nero and an 80-page booklet of essays on the film.

Limited Edition Contents:

  • Limited edition 80-page book featuring new writing on the film by experts on the genre including Andrew Nette, Paul A. J. Lewis, Nathaniel Thompson.

The Day of the Owl

  • Franco Nero (1080p; 00:17:21) – Italian cult star Franco Nero gives a candid look at his time shooting The Day of the Owl. Filmed exclusively for Radiance in September 2022 and featuring archive footage of Damiano Damiani and Leonardo Sciascia.
  • Franco Nero, Ugo Pirro, Lucio Trentini (1080p; 00:26:34) – In this archival documentary, originally shot in 2006, star Franco Nero, screenwriter Ugo Pirro, and production manager Lucio Trentini delve into the making of the film, its reception, and influence.
  • Claudia Cardinale (1080p; 00:22:20) – For a Belgian television series Claudia Cardinale discusses her life and career. First broadcast January 2017.
  • Identity Crime-sis: An Italian Genre Finds Itself (1080p; 00:20:04) – Genre expert Mike Malloy examines The Day of the Owl within the context of Italian crime and mafia focused films. Filmed exclusively for Radiance in September 2022.
  • Casting Cobb: A Tale of Two Continents (1080p; 00:32:36) – In this video essay filmmaker Howard S. Berger looks at actor Lee J. Cobb’s career transition from Hollywood to Italy and the archetypes he tended to play. Created exclusively for Radiance in January 2023.
  • Trailer (1080p; 00:02:50)

The Case is Closed: Forget It

  • Franco Nero (1080p; 00:14:26) – In this new interview with star Franco Nero, the actor reflects on his time working on The Case is Closed: Forget It, the film’s reception, and other aspects of his career. Filmed exclusively for Radiance Films by Federico Caddeo, September 2022.
  • Enrique Bergier, Corrado Solari, and Antonio Siciliano (1080p; 00:28:09)                                                                                            – In this archival documentary assistant director Enrique Bergier, actor Corrado Solari, and editor Antonio Siciliano discuss the making of The Case is Closed: Forget It. Filmed in 2015 by Federico Caddeo.
  • Italy’s Cinematic Civil Conscience: An examination of the life and works of Damiano Damiani (1080p; 00:35:29) – Critic Rachel Nisbet explores director Damiano Damiani’s entire career, with a focus on the political messages within some of his films, his main themes, and recurring obsessions. Made exclusively for Radiance, January 2023.
  • Trailer (1080p; 00:03:13)

How to Kill a Judge

  • Franco Nero (1080p; 00:12:59) – In a new interview, cult icon Franco Nero discusses his memories of making the film, his friendship with the director, and his career. Shot exclusively for Radiance Films in September 2022 by Federico Caddeo.
  • Lessons in Violence (1080p; 00:21:38) – In this video essay filmmaker David Cairns looks at How to Kill a Judge and Damiano Damiani’s unique approach to filmmaking. Created exclusively for Radiance Films in January 2023.
  • Alberto Pezzotta (1080p; 00:34:23) – In an interview with Alberto Pezzotta, author of Directed by Damiano Damiani, the writer discusses Damiani’s contribution to the mafia and crime genres, as well as core themes in his films of this type and their reception in Italy when originally released. Shot exclusively for Radiance Films in November, 2022, by Federico Caddeo.
  • English Trailer (1080p; 00:03:42)
  • Italian Trailer (1080p; 00:03:42)

The Final Assessment

If one loves Italian films of the 1960s and 1970s, then this collection will surely be of interest. The recognizable Franco Nero (who happens to be married to Vanessa Redgrave) and the deft handling of the materials by Damiano Damiani make these films quite enjoyable. Radiance Films offers up beautiful restorations and transfers of each film in a well-rounded and feature-rich package that will not only look beautiful on your display, but also on your shelf.


Cosa Nostra: Franco Nero in Three Mafia Tales by Damiano Damiani is out on Blu-ray August 15, 2023, from Radiance Films.


  • Studios & Distributors: Capital | Rizzoli Film | Fair Film | Radiance Films
  • Director: Damiano Damiani
  • Written By: Ugo Pirro (The Day of the Owl) | Damiano Damiani | Massimo De Rita | Damiano Damiani (The Case is Closed: Forget It) | Damiano Damiani | Fulvio Gicca Palli | Enrico Ribulsi (How to Kill a Judge)
  • Run Time: 410 Mins.
  • Street Date: 15 August 2023
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Format: AVC 1080p
  • Primary Audio: Italian LPCM 2.0 Mono
  • Secondary Audio: English LPCM 2.0 Mono
  • Subtitles: English
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Three classic, gritty mania crime dramas directed by Damiano Damiani and starrring Franco Nero are collected on three Blu-ray Discs. Cosa Nostra: Franco Nero in Three Mafia Tales by Damiano Damiani (Blu-ray Review)