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Volume 2, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 2047-7368
  • E-ISSN: 2047-7376



This article analyses a strand of the Italian police thriller (poliziottesco) whose plots invest heavily in notions of official cover-up and high-level coup d’état conspiracy, in the cultural, political and historical coordinates of the ‘anni di piombo’/‘years of lead’. Prevailing scholarly discourses on the cinema of and about this era tend to identify a desire to seek explanation for the violent traumas and to see through the opaque webs of intrigue that characterize the national memory of the 1970s. By taking La polizia ringrazia/Execution Squad (Steno, 1972), Milano trema – la polizia vuole giustizia/Violent Professionals (Martino, 1973) and La polizia accusa: il servizio segreto uccide/Silent Action (Martino, 1975) as key examples, this article seeks to demonstrate that such films in fact occupy a divergent register of political address: one that seeks, not to explain or ‘make sense’ of the era’s intrigues, but instead to enact a ritual recognition of innate suspicion, pervasive corruption and assumed distrust. These films are appraised for their immediacy rather than their coherence, as documents of confusion rather than of investigative rigour. They thus enable a reading of ‘political cinema’ as being one that chronicles the range of political registers through which events were being represented to sections of the Italian public.


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