Cosa Nostra: Franco Nero in Three Mafia Tales by Damiano Damiani [The Day of the Owl; The Case is Cl [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Radiance Films
Review written by and copyright: Eric Cotenas (20th August 2023).
The Film

"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 are collected in this Blu-ray box set, presented from new restorations."

"I'm going to touch a saint."

The Day of the Owl: When the body of Salvatore Colasberna is discovered on a road beside the wreck of his cement truck, neither the local marshal (La Scorta's Giovanni Pallavicino) nor Milan transplant Captain Bellodi (Django's Franco Nero) are willing to believe that no one saw or heard anything, not any of the other construction workers who frequent the road, not the passengers of a passing bus who refuse to acknowledge the body at all, and least of all Rosa Nicolosi (The Leopard's Claudia Cardinale) who lives on the hill above the crime scene and whose laborer husband has not been seen since the morning of the murder when he supposedly went out in search of work.

Bellodi learns that Colasberna was a "reasonably honest" construction company owner who refused to pay protection money to respected Don Mariano (On the Waterfront's Lee J. Cobb), and that Colasberna had won a quarter of a contract to complete a new road in direct competition with the "mud and straw" operation of La Stella (The Beast in Space's Giuseppe Lauricella) and Pizzuco (The Wrong Man's Nehemiah Persoff), but the marshal advises Bellodi that the pair no longer do their own killings since they can afford to pay others. When Bellodi is apprised of gossip that Rosa had a lover who may or may not have been Colasberna, he thinks that the idea that a cuckolded husband was behind the killing is too convenient.

Bellodi recruits informant Parrinieddu (Army of Shadows' Serge Reggiani) among Pizzuco's circle who suggests that Colasberna might be the fall guy or may actually have committed the murder but the real motive as for "cement rather than a pair of horns." Bellodi deceives Rosa into believing that they have found her husband's body; whereupon she reveals who she suspects was behind the killing Zecchinetta (Delirium's Tano Cimarosa), named after the card game. Realizing that he cannot touch Don Mariano, La Stella, or Pizzuco even when someone puts a bomb in his car; Bellodi decides that he can only get to them by working his way up from the bottom in a battle of wits against a mafia don who has already taken his measure.

Based on the novel by Sicilian author Leonardo Sciascia (We Still Kill the Old Way), The Day of the Owl was the first mafia film of director Damiano Damiani who may not have been as prolific as Eurocrime directors like Umberto Lenzi (The Tough Ones), Stelvio Massi (Convoy Busters), Sergio Martino (Gambling City), or Enzo G. Castellari (The Heroin Busters) but managed to excel in the genre while making distinctive works in other genres as a "jobbing director" (apart from, say, Amityville II: The Possession) thanks to his dedication to addressing social issues regardless of the genre or the sometimes removed time periods of his stories. Like the bookending film in this set How to Kill a Judge, there is a whodunit aspect to The Day of the Owl without the film being much in the way of a giallo (neither the jet set or body count cinematic ones nor the more traditional literary ones) as there come a point where the equally possible criminal conspiracy or crime of passion – being known as or even called a cuckold in Sicily is an insult worthy of killing in this film – seem irrelevant to the mafia's equilibrium and the idealistic hero comes to realize the high price others have to pay for his crusade against fear and complicity.

Nero's cop is simply replaced in the end with someone more palatable to the corrupt order – not someone corrupt but corruptible or at least vulnerable to threats – while the price to Cardinale's Rosa in exercising any kind of agency is the certainty (with underlying veiled threats) that she will fall into line because she is dismissed as a "good woman" (her supposed promiscuous reputation rehabilitated once the case is closed). Nero and Cardinale are engaging as co-leads for whom there is no need, dramatically or commercially, for romantic tension; but Cobb's Don Mariano is riveting as a criminal with a code of honor (warped as it is) that may actually just be an affectation to distinguish himself from his working class cohorts (the tagline for the American theatrical release posters is "Mafia Means Murder!"). A character actor usually playing grotesques, Cimarosa provides some comic relief whose fear and complicity goes out the window when he realizes he is being thrown under the bus while Reggiani is understated as the snitch with a philosophical outlook on his relationship with both the mafia. Giovanni Fusco (L'avventura) provides a supportive if not particularly memorable score while the film has Damiani working with the same top tier collaborators as colleagues Sergio Leone and Pier Paolo Pasolini – who described Damiani as a "bitter moralist" in his own critical writings – in editor Nino Baragli (Once Upon a Time in America) and cinematographer Tonino Delli Colli (Bitter Moon) assisted here by the same camera crew he used in Pasolini's Porcile in future cinematographers Franco Di Giacomo (Four Flies on Grey Velvet), Giuseppe Lanci (Nostalghia), and Roberto Forges Davanzati (The Curse). The film was the penultimate collaboration of producers Luigi Carpentieri and Ermanno Donati, better known for the landmark Italian gothics I Vampiri, The Horrible Dr. Hichcock, and The Ghost as well as Nero's first leading role in The Third Eye (the same year he starred in Django).

"Don't make war with the Titans. It's better to make a deal."

In The Case Is Closed, Forget It, architect Vanzi (Nero) is in prison awaiting trial for a hit-and-run that he swears he did not commit. Vanzi is assigned a solitary cell away from the general population and his lawyer (director Damiani) advises him to make the most of his stay and come up with a juicy story for their newspaper editor colleague. After spending the first night in solitary confinement, he finds himself sharing a cell with a man (Gianpiero Bettega) who has a grudge against his contractor father, a thieving mute (The Working Class Go to Heaven's Corrado Solari), psychotic consecutive life sentence-serving murderer Biro (Tenebrae's John Steiner) – who constantly demonstrates his contempt for Vanzi by asking him a question and then farting as soon as the other man starts to speak – and dying old-timer Campoloni (Don't Torture a Duckling's Georges Wilson) who warns to keep his head down. Custodian Armando (Sex of the Witch's Simone Santia) tells Vanzi that a few lire can get him a bed in the infirmary where he lives it up for a few days, even being granted a quickie with a prostitute (Torso's Patrizia Adiutori) from the women's block by the doctor (The Face with Two Left Feet's Franco Ukmar). When the Chief Prison Guard (Blood Feud's Turi Ferro) will not let Campoloni's wife remain with him while he is dying, Vanzi insults him and winds up in solitary where he is beaten before being sent back to his cell where he discovers that his cellmates have divvied up the care packages his wife has been sending to him.

Despite Armando's warnings, Vanzi approaches Salvatore Rosa (No, the Case is Happily Resolved's Claudio Nicastro), a well-connected inmate about getting assigned to a new cell for the right amount. When Vanzi witnesses an attack on crazy prisoner Ventura (Syndicate Sadists's Antonio Casale) who had tossed away a letter that had been passed onto him before the beating, he observes the unwritten prison rules and tells the Chief Prison Guard and the warden (Ferruccio De Ceresa) that he saw nothing. When he is transferred into a new cell with relatively harmless lifer Zangarella (Il Sorpasso's Luigi Zerbinati) and paranoid Presenti (Rabid Dogs' Riccardo Cucciolla), the latter takes an instant disliking to him. Vanzi confides this to Rosa and is then interrogated about Presenti's mental state. After seeing what happened to Ventura when he was sent to the asylum ward, Vanzi denies saying anything about him. Vanzi discovers that Presenti conducted a survey of a dam project that went ahead despite his warnings about its structural issues. When the dam collapsed, flooded a town, and killed several people, Presenti assaulted the head engineer who denied knowledge of Presenti's survey. With an investigation coming up, Presenti wants to testify and claims to have secreted copies of the destroyed survey. When Vanzi discovers that Presenti passed Ventura the note he was nearly killed for, Vanzi realizes why Rosa has put him in the same cell but not what is expected of him.

Based on the novel "Tante Sbarre" by Leros Pittoni, The Case is Closed, Forget It does not feature the overt presence of the mafia; rather, their presence behind the scenes of the prison – including Rosa's installation as a comfortably-living fall guy for higher-ups – the machinations of defense attorneys and prosecutors alike, and well as in business and public works (citizens can no longer even expect that their complicit silence will protect them from indirect effects like dam breaks). While jokes are made about homosexuality in prison, the film uses the structure and tropes of the prison film to study a broken system and how people are psychologically and physically degraded by doing what they need to do to survive in it (and utterly destroyed when they stand up to it). Clean-cut Vanzi seems as innocent as his cellmates appear guilty based on his (and our) prejudices, but the callousness that comes out whenever he is in a comfortable position calls into question whether he really is innocent or just depending on his societal position to get him off. As Vanzi experiences and becomes more complicit in the corruption of the prison, his guilt or innocence matters less than whether he will stand up for what is right when even the real innocent target advises him to look after himself.

Nero effectively conveys both his character's arrogance and his inner devastation – the coda seems cynical but subtly anticipates a similar ending to Lina Wertmüller's Seven Beauties – but the film's real surprises are Cucciolla who wears a wary "hunted" expression throughout the film as a character stripped of all arrogance that comes with his class position and is risking his life to bring out the truth, and Ferro as the chief prison guard. Ferro's character at first appears morally-conflicted as he queries both Vanzi and Rosa about who they know in engineering to find a position for his son who compromised his health to obtain his degree and has no employment prospects, and is later seen vehemently defending his choices as someone who has fewer choices than someone of Vanzi's status. The cinematography of Claudio Ragona (Shadows Unseen) seems workmanlike at first but constantly reveals its compositions through the movement of the camera or the actors within the frame as depicting imbalances between characters. The scoring of Ennio Morricone (The Stendhal Syndrome) is similarly and suitably understated, underlining Nero's emotions rather than driving the momentum of the film as viewers are accustomed from his work for Damiani's contemporaries.

"The film was purely fictional."
"And yet you prophesied a fact."

The English title How to Kill a Judge takes liberties with the Italian title "Perché si uccide un magistrato" but it may ultimately be more appropriate as Roman filmmaker Giacomo Solaris (Nero) is in Sicily for the release of his locally-produced film depicting the corruption of a mafia-connected prosecutor who is then assassinated. Prosecutor Traini (Colt 38 Special Squad's Marco Guglielmi) is apprised by assistant prosecutor di Tonnare (Machine Gun McCain's Pierluigi Aprà) of the resemblances between himself and the film's protagonist in taking a statement from an informant about political dealings with mafioso Bellolampo (A Fistful of Dynamite's Vincenzo Norvese) without an official recorder and the man's subsequent murder behind bars days later. Equally disturbed by the film and the popular reaction to it is Traini's wife Antonia (My Night at Maud's's Françoise Fabian) who fears for the safety of her husband and her stepson when someone throws a rock through their window. Solaris expects to be arrested by Commissioner Zamagna (Gianni Zavota) – who not only provided resources to the film but is rumored to have mafia connections of his own – but instead receives a dinner invitation from Antonia to show him the effects of his film with the expectation that he apologize to her husband and withdraw the film from circulation. In a private chat with Traini, Solaris dares him to have him arrested and prosecuted for defamation as the damage to Traini's reputation will be enough for him.

When Solaris learns en route back to Rome that Traini has been found gunned down in a car park, he returns against the advice of Zamagna and his own mafia-connected chauffeur Toruzzo (The Most Beautiful Wife's Salvatore Moscardini) to discover that everyone believes that his film either prophesied or encouraged Traini's murder from the prosecutor's widow, the politicians, and the police to the staff of the local newspaper who assisted him in researching the film including the editor (Hallucination Strip's Mico Cundari) and Solaris' journalist lover Sibilla (The Eroticist's Eva Czemerys) who toasts Traini's death and Solaris role in it. Solaris discovers that political party rivals Selimi (Shoot First, Die Later's Elio Zamuto) and Derrasi (Caligula's Giancarlo Badessi) were at odds over Traini's decision to prosecute a case involving a bank from which more than one party member may have taken bribes, and that they are as eager to point the finger at Bellolampo who is currently in hiding while awaiting a kidney transplant as Traini's attorney Meloria (Kill, Baby... Kill!'s Luciano Catenacci) is to blame car park attendant Barra (The Day of the Owl's Tano Cimarosa) who threatened Traini and may have been emboldened by the film. Solaris becomes just as determined to convince Antonia of her husband's corruption and truth of his film's assertions as he is to get at the truth for which he believes the film is a smokescreen.

Like The Day of the Owl, How to Kill a Judge feels as much like a crime film as it does a giallo. Mounted by Damiani as an original story rather than an adaptation as a response to the murder of Sicilian prosecutor Pietro Scaglione who inspired the protagonist of his earlier film Confessions of a Police Captain, How to Kill a Judge offers up the equally-likely possibilities that the prosecutor's murder was as Solaris describes to the police "the logical course of action" – when he asked if he as any insight into who might be responsible based on his research as if he had "prophesied" it – or that the film might have inspired the crime, either by impelling "the simple mind to acts of violence" or by someone for whom the film's release is convenient timing. The question of "whodunit" seems as much a mystery to Solaris as it is to suspects Selimi, Derrasi, and Bellolampo – while Barra does not care since he feels that the courts will make up their mind to convict him regardless of the truth – while others shrug their shoulders like Taruzzo and Solaris' mafia connection Terrasini (Danger: Diabolik's Renzo Palmer) or even Antonia who has reasons to go on defending her husband's reputation regardless of what she discovers with both the suspiciously-slick family doctor (Red Nights of the Gestapo's Giorgio Cerioni) and her late husband's aristocratic aunt as closely advising her as attorney Meloria. For the politicans and newspaper people in the film, the truth does not matter unless it is convenient for them. Ironically, the culprit turns out to be someone both inspired by the film – who nevertheless looks down on others who might out in such a manner as being simple-minded – and for whom it is convenient to obfuscate the investigation with details from the film that have real-life parallels. The ending is similar to that of The Day of the Owl but more cynical as the only people inside and outside of the film to whom Solaris has brought satisfaction are the most corrupt; and Solaris' victory of not being "as guilty as Traini" is a hollow one.

Nero is at his best here out of the three films as an arrogant protagonist who feels justified in denouncing corruption but genuinely disturbed by the supposed effect of his film – "You approve his guilt, but you don't approve his death" charges Antonia – and his concern for Antonia's willing blindness and the danger she may be in by putting her trust in those who would deceive her and use her to convict a scapegoat keeps him from being unsympathetic even as the viewer questions how much his quest for the truth is motivated by guilt or absolving himself of any responsibility. Fabian is a far more compelling performer here than the more decorative "name" roles that she had in other Italian films like of the period in comparison to her French filmography – for instance, Love by Appointment versus Madame Claude – in what turns out to be a layered characterization. The cinematography of Mario Vulpiani contrasts the gritty and the elegant in a similar fashion to his work on films as varied as Le Grande Bouffe, The Bloodstained Shadow, or even Castle Freak while it perhaps makes sense that the score of Riz Ortolani (Cannibal Holocaust) has never been released since it seems to be entirely composed of variations on the same theme that remains mournful in tone no matter what the scene as if to underscore the futility of the protagonist's search for truth. How to Kill a Judge would be the last of the collaborations between Nero and Damiani, with Damiani continuing to work in various genres and occasionally returning to the mafia genre for theatrical and television projects – fewer of which would be seen outside Europe – until his retirement in 2002 and death a decade later.


Released in America theatrically as "Mafia" by American International – the Sciascia was published in English under the titles "Mafia" and "Mafia Vendetta" – The Day of the Owl has had official DVD releases in Italy and Germany, as well as an unauthorized Wild East double feature. The film made its Blu-ray bow in France from Studio Canal but it was not English-friendly. We have not seen that disc but Radiance Film's 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.85:1 widescreen Blu-ray features a 2K restoration from the Italian version (108:40) and the shorter English version (103:11) via seamless branching (credits remain in Italian in both versions). The opening credits and closing FINE card look pretty coarse and a little fuzzy; however, the image improves drastically after the credits – a good point of comparison is the final credit card for the producers and then the same angle after a reverse angle cutaway. Colors are richly-rendered and fine detail is great with the gold patterns in Cardinale's dress no longer drowned out by the predominant red, although a yellow tinge robs some of that color's saturation and makes Nero looks more bronzed than olive, particularly in less detailed wider shots.

Unreleased theatrically or on video in the United States, The Case is Closed, Forget It has only been available on DVD in Germany and Italy in editions that were not English-friendly, and the film's first Blu-ray editions in Germany and France – like the Radiance set a trilogy titled "Justice Politique Corruption-La Trilogie de Damiano Damiani" that substitutes How to Kill a Judge for Goodbye & Amen – were also without English options. Radiance Films' 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.85:1 widescreen Blu-ray comes from a 2K restoration of the original camera negative that may or may not be the same master as the earlier Blu-rays. The film is free of damage while natural grain has been retained – although one wonders if the opening credits are new digital overlays of the original credits since the image is not as degraded as one expects for optical overlays for films of this period. The prison setting favors grays, whites, and browns and skin tones are overall more neutral than those of the Sicilian setting of the previous film.

Despite its pedigree, How to Kill a Judge was not released theatrically or on home video in English-speaking territories until the 2006 DVD release from Blue Underground which featured the complete Italian version of the film with English and Italian audio options (the former reverting to Italian for scenes not dubbed). Radiance Films' 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.85:1 widescreen Blu-ray features a 2K restoration of the original camera negative that offers Italian and English versions on the menu which turn out to be identical cuts of the film (110:42 each) with Italian credits, the only difference being the default audio track and subtitles; as such, we have no indication from this or any earlier releases of how much shorter the English export version of the film had been and Radiance has not recreated it here through branching (it might be impossible if the rights owners only had the audio track and no print material that might reveal a more complex assembly than merely removing scenes or shots for which there is no equivalent dialogue). Colors look more natural and saturated colors like wardrobe and décor accents pop – along with the color gels used in the film-within-a-film – while some of the blacks are a bit diluted in night scenes while the slight tinge of yellow only really seems to make Nero's hair almost the same color as his skin in a few shots.


The Day of the Owl features both Italian and English dub tracks are provided in LPCM 2.0 mono. The film was shot in English and the dub is generally of a high standard; however, some issues crop up both in the dub itself and the treatment of it on the disc. A character addressed only as "Maresciallo (marshal)" does so in the dub in such a way as to suggest that it is his surname rather than his title, and it is spelled that way in the SDH subtitle dialogue; however, the SDH notations refer to him as "Marshal" in denoting him as the speaker of offscreen dialogue. There is also one transcription error in which Nero's retort "Then you won't need protection" appears in the subtitles as "Then you will need protection" undercutting the joke for those who utilize the track. The Italian track is also post-dubbed with Nero dubbed by actor Sergio Graziani (The Five Days of Milan), Cardinale by Rita Savagnone (La Scorta), and Cobb by Corrado Gaipa (Crazy Desires of a Murderer). Optional English subtitles are available for that track.

The Case is Closed, Forget It features both English and Italian LPCM 2.0 mono tracks. Both tracks are well cast without any inappropriate voice casting choices – and some familiar-sounding voices – but the English track has hiss throughout that is more noticeable and even distracting in some moments of silence. Optional English subtitles are available for the Italian track as well as English SDH subtitles for the English track without any obvious errors.

How to Kill a Judge features English and Italian LPCM 2.0 mono tracks of similar quality – once again, hiss is more evident on the English track although it is really only distracting in a couple quiet moments – while English SDH subtitles are available for the English dub and English subtitles are provided for both the Italian track as well as the several times that the English track reverts to Italian (this track is enabled by default if the SDH track is not selected).


The Day of the Owl's extras start off with "Franco Nero on The Day of the Owl" (17:21) in which Nero describes Damiani as one of the most "American" directors in Europe comparable to his idol John Ford (Stagecoach), noting that Damiani's "obsession" with framing was the result of his beginnings as a cartoonist and painter – and that Damiani was the subject of various exhibitions between and during their film collaborations – and also recalls that he was recruited by an assistant director to do a cameo in The Empty Canvas before he became known (and that Damiani did not recall he was in that film). He also recalls that he turned down The Day of the Owl as one of the many offers he received in the wake of Django and Camelot only to be persuaded to do it by girlfriend Vanessa Redgrave who was aware of the popularity of the novel, and how after the film he became known as the "patron saint of the Carabinieri" (as well as finally making his officer father his number one fan after initially being disappointed in his career choice).

Nero also appears in "Franco Nero, Ugo Pirro, Lucio Trentini" (26:34), a 2008 piece in which he repeats some of the anecdotes from the more recent interview while screenwriter Ugo Pirro (The Garden of the Finzi-Contini) recalls being approached with the novel by Carpentieri and Donati, and assistant director Lucio Trentini (The Sheltering Sky) recalls casting the film and using the town as a film set – noting that key grip Augusto Diamanti (Red Sonja) built a custom dolly to capture the interplay of the actors on Don Mariano's terrace which actually was directly across the square from the building they used as the Carabinieri headquarters.

"Claudia Cardinale" (22:20) is a 2007 Belgian TV interview from a program that interviews actors and cultural figures in the back of a taxi cab, with the actress recalling being of Belgian ancestry but growing up in Tunisia where she won a beauty contest but became more notable to the press for not wanting to get into motion pictures until her father got fed up with all of the attention. The piece is more of an overview with Cardinale revealing that she wanted to be an explorer and ended up being able to travel around the world as an actress.

"Identity Crime-Sis: An Italian Genre Finds Itself" (20:04) is a new interview with genre expert Mike Malloy who discusses the Italian crime genre's roots in neorealism and westerns, and how early examples could be divided into three sub-types – action, star-driven, and highbrow – and how the genre could have gone in any of those three directions based on local and international reception, and describing Damiani as a "true auteur" of the genre. It is really a piece that would be more fitting in probably any other Eurocrime release.

"Casting Cobb: A Tale of Two Continents" (32:36) is a video essay by filmmaker Howard S. Berger and David Nicholson-Fajardo that charts the actor's career through his hard-to-see stage work and his Hollywood career through the Red Scare and how the stigma of naming names for HUAC had an effect not only on his career but on the perception of him evolving from his "Death of a Salesman" Willy Loman personification of the promise of the American dream to more sinister, evil, stagnant, rotting patriarchal figures in his later Hollywood work and particularly throughout his latter day Italian work (with his role in The Exorcist offering a peak into the wounded man underneath).

The disc closes with the film's Italian theatrical trailer (2:50).

The Case is Closed, Forget It's extras start off with "Franco Nero on The Case is Closed, Forget It" (14:26) in which he describes his character as a "cog in the prison machine" and a "coward" while speaking warmly of Cucciolla, Wilson, and Ferro – noting that actors who play bad guys are usually nice compared to actors known for playing good guys in a swipe at Tomas Milian and his notorious behavior on sets – as well as recalling Damiani's fondness for acting in small roles, his direction of non-professional actors like the film's real inmates, and his own amazement at the construction of the prison yard on the De Laurentiis backlot.

"Behind Bars" (28:09) features interviews with assistant director Enrique Bergier (Death Rides a Horse), editor Antonio Siciliano (The Sunday Woman), and actor Solari. Bergier recalls that producer Mario Cecchi Gori (The Postman) brought the book to Damiani and the changes made in the adaptation (which were approved by the author) as well as the assistant director's role in casting the film. Siciliano recalls the ups and downs he had with Damiani over cutting the film while Solari discusses his castmates, noting that like himself Steiner was a protege of producer Claudio Mancini (who produced Damiani's The Empty Canvas).

"Italy's Cinematic Civil Conscience: An Examination of the Life and Works of Damiano Damiani" (35:29) is a video essay by critic Rachael Nisbet which provides an overview of Damiani's work as a means of demonstrating how he used different genres to explore "socially engaged cinema" as well as looking at this early career as a cartoonist as well as how scripting comics for others lead to directing documentaries and short subjects leading up to his early works, as well as the influence of A Bullet for the General co-writer Franco Solinas on his subsequent crime films.

The disc's extras close with the film's Italian theatrical trailer (3:13).

How to Kill a Judge's extras kick off with "Franco Nero on How to Kill a Judge" (12:59) in which he recalls that he brought a screenplay by Lina Wertmüller to Cecchi Gori but that Damiani had balked at doing another film with him and instead did the comic western A Genius, Two Partners and a Dupe. Cecchi Gori wanted to do the script as more of a comedy than a serious drama and ended up doing the film with The Con Artists with director Sergio Corbucci and casting Adriano Celentano in his role and Anthony Quinn in a role Nero himself approached several American co-stars to play. Given the changes, Nero was unbothered since he got to make Victory March and Submission in the same period, and that How to Kill a Judge would be a film that was entirely Damiani's vision while Nero got to play his version of Damiani.

"Lessons in Violence" (21:38) is a video essay by filmmaker David Cairns who provides background on the release of Confessions of a Police Captain, the Scaglione murder, and Damiani's reaction to it. Just as interesting is his analysis of the film's camerawork and how storyboarded films tend to look like a series of still photographs while Damiani is able to work with traditional cinematic language within the framework of mobile camerawork, achieving multiple dynamic setups within single camera moves.

In "Alberto Pezzotta on Damiano Damiani and How to Kill a Judge" (34:23), the the author of "Directed by Damiano Damiani" discusses the director's debt to colleagues Francesco Rosi (Illustrious Corpses) and Elio Petri - with We Still Kill the Old Way being as influential on The Day of the Owl as Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion was on Confessions of a Police Captain – and credits Damiani with the creation of three genres: the Mexican-set western with A Bullet for the General (making the provocative statement that the original version with objectionable political content still exists in the national film archive and was recently restored), the Sicilian Mafia film, and the Italian crime genre as a whole. He also discusses the evolving depiction of the mafia in Damiani's films, still rural and engaged with the citizens early on, becoming enmeshed with government, busines, and the media, and then ruthless and irremediably evil by the time of How to Kill a Judge (he also describes Damiani's works as a "cinema of denunciation"). He also notes the dissatisfaction with the ending of the film by critics who felt that the ending "devalued civic crusades against the Mafia" which remained a sore point for Damiani who he argues was using the film to process the murder of Scaglione (opinion has shifted about Scaglione and his murder attributed to the Mafia attempting to remove a troublesome judge, set an example, and turn the heat on rivals).

The disc also includes the film's international trailer (3:42) and an identical Italian theatrical trailer (3:42).


Each disc is housed in separate keep cases with reversible sleeves featuring designs based on original posters for each film. Not provided for review were the three-thousand copy limited edition rigid box with removable OBI strip (leaving packaging free of certificates and markings) or the 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.


The three films collected in Cosa Nostra: Franco Nero in Three Mafia Tales by Damiano Damiani may not be the comprehensive Nero/Damiani experience (presumably due to rights issues), they show Damiani at the height of his talent and three strong Nero's roles in the midst of his busiest career as a leading man.


Rewind DVDCompare is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and the Amazon Europe S.a.r.l. Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to,,,,, and . As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.