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The Iron Prefect [Limited Edition] (Blu-ray Review)

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

In Pasquale Squitieri’s The Iron Prefect (Il prefetto di ferro), Italian film mainstay Giuliano Gemma (The Leopard) plays Prefetto Cesare Mori, an iron-fisted law enforcer sent into Fascist Sicily in 1925 to be its governor and wrest control of an area away from the grip of the mafia. Mori, seeing the brutal violence used by the mafia and the poverty of the local people it has caused, does not hesitate to mete out his own brutal forms of justice. His methods become so effective he runs into problems with the people in the government who do not want him to succeed.

The film’s screenplay co-written by Squitieri, Ugo Pirro, and Arrigo Petacco, is slight, but the director leans heavily into the style and production values, with gorgeously designed sets, sun-soaked locations, and detailed period costumes. Gemma plays against type and gives a convincing performance as the lawman with ice in his veins.

The beautiful and always convincing Claudia Cardinale (The Day of the Owl) and Francisco Rabal (Sorcerer) also star to round out the top-notch period cast.

  • The Iron Prefect (1977)
  • The Iron Prefect (1977)
  • Giuliano Gemma in The Iron Prefect (1977)
  • The Iron Prefect (1977)
  • The Iron Prefect (1977)
  • Giuliano Gemma in The Iron Prefect (1977)
  • The Iron Prefect (1977)
  • The Iron Prefect (1977)
  • The Iron Prefect (Radiance_RAD022BDLE)
  • The Iron Prefect (Radiance_RAD022BDLE)
  • The Iron Prefect (Radiance_RAD022BDLE)

The Video

The Iron Prefect was scanned in 2K from the original camera negative and restored by Cinema Communications, Rome. The film is presented on Blu-ray in a 1.78:1 AVC 1080p encodement from Radiance.

The film’s color palette reminds me very much of the warm earth tone colors that dominate The Godfather, but Prefect, while similar in palette, does not have the dark, at times crushing black levels. There is a clean image with natural, filmic grain present and three-dimensional textures. Shadows are not obsidian, but some dark colors can tip toward a little bit of crush. Apart from this, this is a very satisfying transfer free from noise and anomalies.

The Audio

The original Italian audio and English dubs for The Iron Prefect are provided in LPCM 1.0. The sound for both versions is good given the age and the fact it is only mono. There is not a lot of noise or hiss and the dialogue comes through clearly. There are also newly translated English subtitles included.

The Supplements

Radiance Films includes new interviews and an archival documentary as well as a must-read booklet (limited edition only) with writing on the film. This is a good collection of bonus features, even without an audio commentary.

Limited Edition Content:

  • Reversible sleeve featuring designs based on original posters.
  • Limited edition booklet featuring new writing by Italian cinema expert Guido Bonsaver and an original article on the real-life Cesare Mori and his Mafia raid as depicted within the film.
  • Limited edition of 2000 copies, presented in full-height Scanavo packaging with removable OBI strip leaving packaging free of text and markings.

Bonus Features:

  • Pasquale Squitieri and Giuliano Gemma (1080p; 00:34:88) – In this archival documentary, originally shot in 2009, director Pasquale Squitieri and star Giuliano Gemma discuss the making of the film and their experiences following its release.
  • Domenico Monetti  (1080p; 00:40:14) – In this new interview Pasquale Squitieri biographer Domenico Monetti provides analysis and background to the making of The Iron Prefect. Filmed exclusively for Radiance in September 2022.
  • Alex Cox (1080p; 00:11:28) – Filmmaker Alex Cox gives an appreciation of actor Giuliano Gemma and The Iron Prefect. Recorded exclusively for Radiance Films in March 2023.
  • Trailer (1080p; 00:03:28)

The Final Assessment

Radiance continues down the path of issuing high quality transfers of interesting, at times esoteric, films from around the world that deserve reexamination and rediscovery. The Iron Prefect slides into their catalogue easily and makes for an entertaining film for fans of Italian cinema from this era.


The Iron Prefect [Limited Edition] is out on Blu-ray July 18, 2023, from Radiance Films


  • Rating Certificate: Not Rated
  • Studios & Distributors: Rizzoli Film | Radiance
  • Director: Pasquale Squitieri
  • Written By: Arrigo Petacco | Ugo Pirro | Pasquale Squitieri
  • Run Time: 110 Mins.
  • Street Date: 18 July 2023
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Format: AVC 1080p
  • Primary Audio: Italian LPCM 1.0
  • Secondary Audio: English LPCM 1.0
  • Subtitles: English | English SDH
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