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  • Writer's pictureGabe Powers

The Case is Closed, Forget It Blu-ray Review


Radiance Films

Blu-ray Release: August 15, 2023 (as part of the Cosa Nostra collection)

Video: 1.85:1/1080p/Color

Audio: Italian and English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono

Subtitles: English, English SDH

Run Time: 106:10

Director: Damiano Damiani


Note: This Blu-ray is currently only available as part of Radiance Films’ Cosa Nostra: Franco Nero In Three Mafia Tales By Damiano Damiani three-disc collection along with Day of the Owl (Italian: Il giorno della civetta, 1968) and How to Kill a Judge (Italian: Perché si uccide un magistrato, 1974). Please read my Day of the Owl review first for a deeper look at the careers of Damiani and Nero.


An architect named Vanzi (Franco Nero) is thrown in jail for a misdemeanor and, faced with corrupt guards and a prison yard ruled by the mafia, discovers the grim reality of life behind bars. (From Radiance’s official synopsis)



Following the success of The Day of the Owl (Italian: Il giorno della civetta; aka: Mafia, 1968), actor Franco Nero and director Damiano Damiani reteamed for Confessions of a Police Captain (Italian: Confessione di un commissario di polizia al procuratore della repubblica, 1971), which many fans and critics consider their best work. Unfortunately, that movie isn’t included in Radiance Films’ Cosa Nostra collection, so we’re moving on to their third project, The Case is Closed, Forget It (Italian: L'istruttoria è chiusa: dimentichi, 1972). Once again, Damiani is exploring the corruption dynamic between criminals and authorities with his patented political slant, but, this time, he’s doing it slightly outside the framework of the poliziotteschi genre. Instead, The Case is Closed, Forget It – not to be confused with Vittorio Salerno’s giallo-esque No, the Case is Happily Resolved (Italian: No il caso è felicemente risolto, 1973) – explores the corruption, abuse, and absurd morality of the country’s prison system.


The Case is Closed, Forget It is, like Day of the Owl, based on a book, Many Bars (Italian: Tante Sbarre, 1970) by Leros Pittoni. The adaptation was written by Damiani with Dino Maiuri and Massimo de Rita, the team that also co-wrote Sergio Corbucci’s comedic Zapata western Compañeros (Italian: Vamos a Matar Compañeros, 1970), and Enzo G. Castellari’s Street Law (Italian: Il cittadino si ribella, 1974), which also stars Nero and is sort of an anti-Damiani poliziotteschi. I don’t know enough about the tumultuous period known as Anni di Piombo (The Years of Lead) to guess as to any specific event that might have inspired Pittoni’s book, but, only a couple of years later, it would be almost unheard of for a hit Italian crime movie to be critical of the prison apparatus, outside of maybe campaigning to bring back the death penalty (edit: according to assistant director Enrique Bergier interview and Rachael Nisbet’s video essay, both included on this disc, there had been ongoing controversies surrounding Italian prisons at the time).



Damiani portrays prison as a bleak hell hole run by out-of-touch fascists who think they’re good people and sadistic gangsters who know they aren’t. Rule is enforced by indifferent sociopaths and the cells are crammed full of men whose lack of dignity has turned them into cruel pawns. Meanwhile, the barely functioning legal system runs on social favoritism and bribes. It’s all a rather heavy-handed representative microcosm of the country’s politics. It’s not even really a metaphor – it’s part of the text – but Damiani imparts enough raw humanity to keep the themes from alienating a wider audience. The semi-episodic structure also complicates the narrative, though not to the degree it does in the truly ambiguous Bullet for the General (Italian: El Chuncho, Quien Sabe?). Both films end on downers, though The Case is Closed, Forget It’s finale is truly devastating. I kept noticing what felt like nods to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, but it was probably just my personal bias. Miloš Forman’s film wasn’t released until 1975, and, though Ken Kesey’s novel was published in Italian at some point during the ‘60s (I couldn’t find an exact date), it seems odd for Damiani, Maiuri, and de Rita to base their script on two books.


Despite the quiet, tough guy seen throughout his western and poliziotteschi roles, Nero was always capable of great vulnerability and excels here as a bourgeois outsider who initially tries to throw his privilege around, first for comfort, then out of survival instinct. He only begins to recognize the corruption and finds value in a kind of class solidarity after it’s too late. Nero is bolstered by a real all-star supporting cast, including John Steier, the Shakespearian-trained Englishman who had only just started his long run of Italian genre films in 1971, Riccardo Cucciolla, who shares the poster with Nero, despite not really showing up until halfway through the film, Turi Ferro, Antonio Casale, Ferruccio De Ceresa, Georges Wilson, and Claudio Nicastro as a despicable, perpetually grinning mob boss.



Video

The Case is Closed, Forget It has never been released on North American VHS, Beta, or DVD. The first Blu-ray was released via Koch Media in Germany and Artus Films in France has recently released their own disc as part of a different Damiani trilogy, alongside How to Kill a Judge and Goodbye & Amen (1977). Neither disc included English audio or subtitle options. Radiance’s Blu-ray, like all the films in their Cosa Nostra collection, features a new 2K restoration of the original camera negatives. The prison locations aren’t exactly vibrant, but cinematographer Claudio Ragona makes good use of what he’s got, crafting gritty, well-lived-in environments with limited light. The daytime details are boosted with backlights and dark sequences feature minimal highlights that bring out rich blacks and nice dynamic range. A 4K scan might have drawn out a little more texture, but grain levels seem pretty accurate and not overly snowy or smudgy (I caught one particularly high contrast, grainy shot that looked like an interpositive insert to my eyes, but who knows?). Most colors fall into the purposefully drab category, aside from some stylishly blue/purple night scenes.


Audio

The Case is Closed, Forget It includes both English and Italian dubs, both on the same cut of the film, so you can flip between them for comparison. As per usual, the film was shot without sound and dubbed in post, so there is no official language track. In terms of aural quality, the tracks are very similar with the Italian one being a little over-bright and the English one being a little muffled. I quite liked the performances on the English track, even though it doesn’t seem like anyone outside of John Steiner was speaking English on set. The eerie, understated score is provided by the maestro himself, Ennio Morricone, though there’s very little non-diegetic music throughout the film. The loudest bit is the calypso outro at the end of the film, which is used ironically.



Extras

  • Franco Nero on The Case is Closed, Forget It (14:26, HD) – The second part of this collection’s three-part interview with the actor, who chats about his character, who he calls a coward, other cast members, working with real inmates as extras, and similarities between The Case is Closed, Forget It and Nanni Loy’s In Prison Awaiting Trial (Italian: Detenuto in attesa di giudizio, 1971), which were released on the same day, cannibalizing each other at the box office.

  • Behind Bars (28:09, HD) – This 2015 archival featurette includes interview clips with assistant director Enrique Bergier, editor Antonio Siciliano, and actor Corrado Solari, who talk about their other work, Damiani, the source material, the cast, locations and sets, similarities to In Prison Awaiting Trial (again), and censorship pertaining to the film’s politics, rather than its sex or violence.

  • Italy's Cinematic Civil Conscience: An Examination of the Life and Works of Damiano Damiani (35:29, HD) – A video essay by critic Rachael Nisbet explores Damiani’s larger career, his early life, his work in comic books and fine art, his documentary shorts, his politics and how they relate to his films, repeating themes throughout his oeuvre, and his relationship to his contemporaries, before breaking down a number of his most important features and television output.

  • Italian trailer




The images on this page are taken from the BD and sized for the page. Larger versions can be viewed by clicking the images. Note that there will be some JPG compression.


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