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Release Date: December 3rd, 2013 Movie Release Year: 1970

Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion

Overview -

The provocative Italian filmmaker Elio Petri's most internationally acclaimed work is this remarkable, visceral, Oscar-winning thriller. Petri maintains a tricky balance between absurdity and realism in telling the Kafkaesque tale of a Roman police inspector (Gian Maria Volonté, in a commanding performance) investigating a heinous crime—which he committed himself. Both a penetrating character study and a disturbing commentary on the draconian crackdowns by the Italian government in the late 1960s and early '70s, Petri's kinetic portrait of surreal bureaucracy is a perversely pleasurable rendering of controlled chaos.

Must Own
Rating Breakdown
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack
Video Resolution/Codec:
1080p/AVC MPEG-4
Aspect Ratio(s):
Audio Formats:
French Uncompressed Mono
Special Features:
A booklet featuring an essay by film scholar Evan Calder Williams and excerpts from a 2001 book by author and screenwriter Ugo Pirro
Release Date:
December 3rd, 2013

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take


I just love Italian cinema. They're not afraid to push the bounds and take us into new territory. From Dario Argento to Pier Paolo Pasolini and Elio Petri, their filmmaking and movies have inspired other filmmakers that we see today. These directors have also moved and captivated audiences world wide with their award winning and ground-breaking movies, even if some of their films are ultra violent, bloody, and full of nudity. And thanks to Criterion, we have been able to get the best quality of home video for some of these Italian films.

If you have never heard of a film called 'Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion', then prepare yourself, because it might become one of your most sought after movies. Elio Petri made an unrelenting film about the corruption of big-time political figures and bosses in the justice system. It's a rough look at one man's goal to see what he can get away with. The film not only won Best Film at the Cannes Film Festival in 1970, but also won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film that year too.

This brilliant film follows a lead police detective who makes love to his mistress quite often, but then brutally and savagely kills her with a razor blade. Much like the TV show 'LOST', this movie comes complete with tons of flashbacks, to which we find out that this man is a very powerful and influential police detective. Through the eyes of his co-workers and "friends", we see that most people are afraid of him, and would rather avoid and agree with him than to question his work.

More flashbacks show us that he and his mistress had an insane relationship, and didn't engage in normal sexual encounters. On the contrary, their intimate relationship consisted of torture. He did the torturing, while she enjoyed it. They would play sadistic games, where he would do things to her that he learned from the files his co-workers brought to his desk on murderers and rapists. But of course, there came a time where he grew bored with her, and in his mind, he wanted to see what he could get away with, which was unfortunate for her.

What really makes this movie great, and is still relevant more than ever today, is the corruptness of high-end political figures and government employees. And Petri definitely makes this his undertone for the film. No matter what this police detective does, judges, bosses, and his co-workers look the other way, even if they know what's going on. And we see this throughout the film, as he manipulates everyone in his path to his way of thinking. And like a serial killer, he wants to get caught, so he leaves clues for the police, but nobody will believe it's him, which evokes the title, 'Citizen Above Suspension', meaning, this guy is too high up to commit a crime like this.

With a great cast, amazing direction, and a score by the famous Ennio Morricone, 'Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion' is a must-see.

Video Review


'Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion' comes with an impressive 1080p HD transfer presented in 1.85:1 aspect ratio. According to Criterion, this is a new 4K digital restoration job from the original 35mm camera negative, which was scanned in at 4k resolution. What's that mean for us? It means that this might be one of the best looking restoration jobs in recent memory.

The detail is very sharp here with well-defined closeups that show the actor's makeup blemishes and facial hair quite nicely. There is also a bit of depth here with this new transfer, as everything in the background is crystal clear, while having a great filmic look at the same time. The colors are very well saturated, and since this is not the brightest movie ever, most of the colors are on the darker spectrum with tons of blacks, blues, and browns. But they look magnificent.

The black levels are deep and inky with the the skin tones very natural and smooth. All dirt, hairs, specks, and other damage have been removed with no compression issues to speak of. There are no lighting issues or any other stability problems with this release, making this Criterion product top notch.

Audio Review


This release comes with an Italian LPCM 1.0 audio mix with English subtitles. Now why I wish there was an option for a 5.1 track, this mono mix is great. This audio track has been restored and remastered and sounds very impressive. The clarity and depth to this mono track will give you chills for being a movie that is over 40 years old.

The dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to understand if know Italian with great subtitles. There is no evidence of any pops, cracks, or hissing during the film. And Morricone's score adds a great bit of suspense and entertainment at every corner. You won't have a big dynamic range here or a lot of big loud sound that will rumble the walls, but that's not what this movie was made for. Great audio presentation.

Special Features

  • Elio Petri: Notes About a Filmmaker (HD, 80 mins) - Here is a great feature length documentary on the life an career of director Elio Petri that was made in 2005. There are numerous interviews with A-List directors and actors including Bernardo Bertolucci, Robert Altman, and Vanessa Redgrave.
  • Investigation of a Citizen Named Volonte (HD, 55 mins) - Here is another documentary that centers on the life and career of actor Gian Maria Volonte. He is most known for his roles as the villain in Sergio Leone's westerns, but also for this film. Again this documentary is chock full of interviews from famous people with some archival footage.
  • On Investigation (HD, 25 mins) - This is a new interview from 2013 with film scholar Camilla Zamboni, in which she discusses Elio Petri and his film. She covers the social and political views of the movie as well as the lead actress in the film.
  • Music in his Blood (HD, 20 mins) - Here is a great extra that centers on Ennio Morricone, the great and legendary composer. This interview was made in 2010 with Morricone and Fabio Ferzetti and discusses his work with Petri and long list of credits.
  • Elio Petri (HD, 15 mins)- Here is an excerpt from a 1970 tv program where director Elio Petri and film critic Alexandre Astruc discuss the making of 'Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion'.
  • Trailers (HD, 7 mins) - The original Italian trailer and English trailers are presented here.
  • Criterion Booklet - Criterions famous illustrated booklet with cast and crew bios, tech specs, and an essay by film scholar Evan Calder Williams, along with excerpts from Ugo Pirro's book.

'Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion' is one hell of a film, and Criterion knocked this one out of the park. The acting, direction, and score are all amazing. The video and audio are top notch here, with the video presentation being one of the better ones of the year here. The extras are insanely good too. This is a must own.