Though certainly best known for his breakthrough role as gunslinger Django, pop culture icon Franco Nero’s long and illustrious career boasts over 200 roles in film and TV. Director Damiano Damiani utilised Nero’s winning screen presence in three compelling mafia tales, now released in a stunning Blu-ray boxset from newcomer label Radiance Films. Their first boxset release, this beautifully designed set boasts the three engrossing films alongside a generously packed booklet. It’s an incredible release, and absolutely essential for crime cinema enthusiasts.
We took a closer look…
The most American of directors according to celebrated critic Paolo Mereghetti, Damiano Damiani (A Bullet for the General) nevertheless surveyed his own country’s mafia history unlike anyone before him, to critical and box office success. Three such classic films – each starring Franco Nero – are collected in this Blu-ray box set, presented from new restorations.
The Day of the Owl stars Franco Nero as a police chief who, while investigating the death of a construction worker, goes up against corrupt officials and a ruthless mafia boss (Lee J. Cobb). Adapted from the celebrated novel by Leonardo Sciascia (Illustrious Corpses, Todo Modo), The Day of the Owl was the first book to openly deal with organised crime in Sicily. A prestigious production, it was in the running for best film at the Berlin Film Festival and found wins at home in the David di Donatello Awards for Claudia Cardinale, Nero, Damiani, and Best Production.
Nero portrays a simple man thrown in jail for a misdemeanour in The Case Is Closed: Forget It. Inside, he sees the grim reality of life behind bars, where the mafia controls everything. A powerful production with Nero on top form and supported by a strong cast including Riccardo Cucciolla (Rabid Dogs) and John Steiner (Tenebrae), the intensity of Damiani’s film places it among the finest prison dramas. Presented in Italian and for the first time with the original English dub.
In How to Kill a Judge, Nero plays filmmaker Giacomo Solaris, whose latest film features a judge corrupted by the mafia and who is later found murdered. The real judge the character is based on seizes the footage, but is later killed in the same way. Feeling a degree of responsibility, Solaris investigates, but as the assassinations increase around him, will he reach the source of the conspiracy? Full of twists and a fascinating meta-commentary on cinema, Damiani points the camera at himself and the genre as he investigates the social impact of mafia violence, a fitting end to this survey of Damiani’s Cosa Nostra.
Blu-ray Limited Edition Box Set Special Features
- 2K restoration of The Day of the Owl from the original negative presented in the original Italian version (109 mins) and the shorter export cut with English audio (103 mins)
- 2K restoration of The Case is Closed: Forget It from the original negative presented with Italian and, for the first time, English audio options
- 2K restoration of How to Kill a Judge from the original negative presented in Italian and English audio options
- Original uncompressed mono PCM audio
- New interview with star Franco Nero, featuring archive footage of Damiano Damiani and Leonardo Sciascia discussing The Day of the Owl (2022, 17 mins)
- Archival interview with Franco Nero, writer Ugo Pirro and production manager Lucio Trentini discussing the making of The Day of the Owl (2006, 27 mins)
- Identity Crime-Sis: filmmaker and Italian crime cinema expert Mike Malloy discusses The Day of the Owl in the context of the formation of the Italian crime film genre (2022, 20 mins)
- Casting Cobb: A Tale of Two Continents: A video essay by filmmaker Howard S. Berger looking at actor Lee J. Cobb’s career transition from Hollywood to Italy and the archetypes he tended to play (2023, 33 mins)
- Archival interview with Claudia Cardinale from Belgian TV in which she discusses her long and storied career (2017, 22 mins)
- New interview with star Franco Nero discussing The Case is Closed: Forget It (2022, 14 mins)
- Archival documentary on the making of The Case is Closed: Forget It featuring actor Corrado Solari, assistant director Enrique Bergier and editor Antonio Siciliano (2015, 28 mins)
- Italy’s Cinematic Civil Conscience: An Examination of the Life and Works of Damiano Damiani: A visual essay on the career of Damiani Damiani by critic Rachael Nisbet (2023, 35 mins)
- New interview with star Franco Nero discussing How to Kill a Judge (2022, 13 mins)
- New interview with Alberto Pezzotta, author of Regia Damiano Damiani, who discusses Damiani’s contribution to the mafia and crime genres and the reception of his films in Italy (2022, 34 mins)
- Lessons in Violence: A new video essay on How to Kill a Judge by filmmaker David Cairns (2023, 22 mins)
- Original trailers for each film
- New and improved optional English subtitles for Italian audio and English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for English audio for each film
- Reversible sleeve featuring designs based on original posters for each film
- Limited edition 120-page book featuring new and archival writing on the films by experts on the genre including Andrew Nette on Leonardo Sciascia’s The Day of the Owl; Piero Garofalo on The Case is Closed: Forget It; Paul A. J. Lewis on depictions of the mafia in each of the films within this set; Shelley O’Brien on each of the scores; a newly translated archival interview with Damiani; Nathaniel Thompson on Franco Nero; Marco Natoli on Damiani’s place within the cinema politico movement in Italian cinema; a critical overview for each the films by Cullen Gallagher and credits for each film
- Limited edition of 3000 copies (each for the UK and US), presented in a rigid box with removable OBI strip leaving packaging free of certificates and markings
COSA NOSTRA IS AVAILABLE ON JUNE 19 FROM RADIANCE FILMS