How To Kill A Judge

How To Kill A Judge (1974)
Blue Underground
Cast: Franco Nero, Francoise Fabian
Extras: Featurette, Trailers

Though mostly recognized for his "Django" character Italian actor Franco Nero has actually covered a very wide variety of personalities in his 40-year career and still keeps adding new facets to it every year. Blue Underground has now prepared a DVD version of the Italian movie "Perché si uccide un magistrato?" which is better known in the US under the title "How To Kill A Judge." Plenty of reason for us to take a closer look.

Franco Nero plays Giacomo Solaris, a movie director who has just released a sensational new film with a strong political undertone. In the film he accuses a high-ranking judge of corruption a collaboration with the Mafia and concludes the picture by the judge being killed. The movie causes outrage among the judge's entourage, of course, and applause among the public. But when the judge is really killed a few short days later, Solaris wonders if he may have contributed to the murder. Plagued by self-doubt he begins to investigate the murder a little closer and soon finds himself in over his head in a plot of murder and conspiracy that includes the Mafia and many officials.

"How To Kill A Judge" is a great thriller that has a distinctly different tone than its American counterparts. It feels a bit more laid back – in part a result of the wonderful Italian backdrops, no doubt – but at the same time grittier than the urban thrillers Hollywood usually produces. The clash of sunshine, violence, small villages nestled atop of hills, Fiats, mafia hits, more sunshine and politics creates an exciting mix that works wonderfully for this film. The plot is provocative and thought-provoking and contains some great plot-twists – especially the ending – that will have you reeling, trying to figure out, who's friend and who's foe.

Franco Nero puts in a great performance as the director with a conscience after all. His steel blue eyes can be piercing and almost menacing at times, but also become the window into his tortured soul. He pulls off the entire range with ease, making Solaris a very likeable character that you can easily empathize with.

Blue Underground has prepared a wonderful looking transfer for this movie. The image is absolutely clean and free of any blemishes and is, for the most part, also entirely free of grain. Only occasional shots exhibit a bit of graininess, which is a result of the film stock used to shoot the movie. The colors of the transfer a absolutely natural, rendering an image that is tangible and faithfully reproduces the film's original look and feel. Black levels are solid and deep, giving the image good visual depth while making sure that shadows are well-defined but never lose definition. No edge-enhancement mars the image and the compression is also without flaws.

The DVD contains the original Italian language track of the movie as well as an English dub, both in their mono versions. The audio sounds a but dated but even so makes for a good and enjoyable presentation. The English dub is surprisingly good and is well synchronized with the image. Optional subtitles in English are also provided.

As extras, the release contains a newly created featurette called "The Damiani/Nero Connection" in which Franco Nero and director Damiano Damiani share their thoughts on their collaboration. The two made a series of films together during the period and were collaborating on many levels. Here they look back and tell what it was like for them to make movies together. Trailers for the movie round out the release.

"How To Kill A Judge" is a great thriller that is fun to watch. It may feel a bit dated on occasion but it always manages to keep viewers intrigued and guessing. Blue Underground has created a marvelous DVD version for this film and fans of the genre should definitely take a closer look at this release.