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(aka "Il commissario De Luca" )


directed by Antonio Frazzi
Italy 2008


Based on the novel trilogy by Carlo Lucarelli (Dario Argento's SLEEPLESS), the series INSPECTOR DE LUCA follows the travails of apolitical Italian police inspector Achille De Luca (Alessandro Preziosi, LOOSE CANNONS) as his quest for justice constantly clashes with the political interests of the Fascists, the Communists, and the Christian Democrats in this series of cases that span the length of World War II and the turbulent rebuilding years after.

In "Unauthorized Investigation" - set in 1938 - the body of a known prostitute is discovered on Il Duce's private beach, and De Luca finds that the rest of the force and Mussolini's private guards are more concerned with a scandal than the victim or the perpetrator, establishing a common theme of this quartet of mysteries. When Silvestri (Richard Sammel, CASINO ROYALE) - a particularly cut-throat member of Il Duce's secret police - seizes the case file, De Luca suspects a political motive behind the killing. He mounts an unauthorized investigation with the resources of deputy prosecutor Tarantini (Bruno Armando, UNO BIANCA) and anti-Fascist journalist Gabriele Dannunzio (Ken Duken, INGLORIOUS BASTERDS), insider information about "the Party" from credit-stealing colleague Rassetto (Rolando Ravello, ALMOST BLUE), and the footwork of junior officer Pugliese (Corrado Fortuna, TO ROME WITH LOVE). Anonymous tips lead De Luca to the victims likely suitor Count Utimperger (Mirko Ciotta) and his alluring wife Laura (Kasia Smutniak, FROM PARIS WITH LOVE) - who plays tennis with Il Duce - but his discover of the source of those tips has him wondering if the murder is a political one or a crime of passion.

"Carte Blanche" is set in 1945 just as the Allied Forces are about to cross the border into Italy, and finds De Luca transferred to Bolognia and dodging his newfound fame as Mussolini's "guardian angel" after he inadvertently saved the dictator from an assassination attempt. He finds himself paired again with newly promoted Pugliese investigating the murder of a playboy with ties to political rivals Count Zuccari (José María Blanco, 99 WOMEN) and Professor Armieri via his wife Silvia (Assumpta Serna of Almadovar's MATADOR), as well as fortune teller Valeria (Raffaella Rea). Surprisingly, the chief and Mussolini's secret police give De Luca "carte blanche" in his investigation just as long as the suspect is not one of the occupying Germans. As De Luca pursues his leads involving Zuccari's morphine-addicted daughter (Nadja Bobyleva) and the black market dealings of Armieri's son (Emiliano Coltorti), he begins to realize that the suspects he is being steered towards are politically convenient scapegoats. The solution to the case, however, may prove to be irrelevant, however, when the English make their way across the border and De Luca learns that he is on their hit list for his association with "Il Duce".

"The Damned Season" finds De Luca in hiding from the Allied Forces and the Partisans. Making his way on foot under the guise of an engineer looking for work, De Luca finds himself blackmailed into assisting newly-appointed Partisan police officer Guido Leonardi (Stefano Pesce, FROM ZERO TO TEN) in solving the murder of a much-loved town elder - who lost his wife and son to the war - who was tortured by either robbers or fascists. De Luca quickly determines that the robbery was faked and that the victim must have known his assailant and that they didn't find what they were looking for. Discovering an expensive pin that belonged to a local count who collaborated with the Germans and reportedly fled the country (although everyone knows he was murdered by antifascists, and they're okay with that), De Luca and Leonardi try to discover how the victim came into ownership of the pin. When their investigation leads them to local hero Carnera (Massimo Venturiello, RORRET), Leonardi is reluctant to pursue the lead and De Luca finds yet another investigation derailed by politics (more provincial than before) and the discovery of his own identity under threat.

The final case "Via del Oche" takes place three years later as De Luca returns to Bologna after three years in "purgatory" - working in the passport office and serving as a country constable solving cow thefts - appointed to the vice squad in charge of the local brothels on the titular street. His former assistant Pugliese is working on the "rapid intervention" unit and pulls De Luca in on a murder case since it occurred at a brothel. Although it appears that the victim, a bouncer, hanged himself, De Luca quickly deduces that it was a staged suicide; he soon discovers, however, that his Christian Democrat superior (Carlo Cartier, KAOS) is quick to close the case as a suicide since the victim was a communist. De Luca's position on the vice squad "watching the whores" does allow him to continue making inquiries only to discover that the madam of the brothel is his former flame Valeria (from "Carte Blanche"). When the investigation of a subsequent murder and the death of the assailant links prostitutes and party candidates, De Luca's superiors once again try to bully him into dropping the case as the upcoming elections threaten the public safety.

Eric Cotenas

Theatrical Release: 27 April 2008 - 11 May 2008 (Italian TV)

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DVD Review: Arrow Films - Region 2 - PAL

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Arrow Films

Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 7:00:35 (4% PAL speedup)

1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.0 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
Subtitles English (burnt-in)
Features Release Information:
Studio: Arrow Films

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• Episode 1: 'Unauthorized Investigation' (16:9; 1:49:20)
• Episode 2: 'Carte Blanche' (16:9; 1:46:28)
• Start-up 'Nordic Noir' promo and 'Salamander: Season 1' Trailer

• Episode 3: 'The Damned Season' (16:9; 1:48:20)
• Episode 4: 'Via del Oche' (16:9; 1:36:27)

DVD Release Date: 14 April 2014

Chapters 24



Arrow Films presents the four feature-length episodes of this series on two dual-layer discs in anamorphic 1.78:1 widescreen transfers. Close-ups look fairly good but softish thanks to a degree to the "vintage" look of the cinematography, but long shots look rather less-detailed and edge-enhanced. Some of this may be the fault of the original masters and the compression of almost four hours onto each dual-layer disc. No complaints about the Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio track, but the burnt-in English subtitles have some rare misspellings and grammatical errors (as well as mistranslating "squadra mobile" for "flying squad" instead of state police), but they are not distracting. There are no extras besides start-up trailers on the first disc.

In Italy, the series was released by RAI-Trade in a four disc set (HERE) with optional English subtitles and extras, but the online specs and back cover scan say that it's "PAL 4/3" and it appears to be out of print. RAI-Trade also released single disc versions but they reportedly have no subtitles.

  - Eric Cotenas


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Region 2 - PAL

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