Scenes from Giuseppe Tornatore’s “Il Camorrista” [1986 Italy]

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Giuseppe Tornatore made his directorial debut with the crime drama “Il Camorrista” [Eng. Title: The Professor]. This would be our first glimpse of Tornatore’s prodigious talent, which will blossom gloriously in his next project two years later – a film that I still consider possibly the greatest ever made. In case you’re wondering, that is “Nuovo Cinema Paradiso” – if you love cinema and enjoy a hearty laugh and a cry in front of a screen, you must watch it. While I sometimes wish Tornatore had made a few more films, a part of me is glad to see him build his creative appetite by taking big time-off between projects – the result – every film of his is worthy of mention in the cinematic hall of fame. On another matter, if I ever venture south of Rome, it’ll be thanks largely to watching his films.

Back to the debut, Tornatore scripted the screenplay loosely based on a biopic of a real-life Camorra leader – Camorra being the Neapolitan equivalent of the Sicilian Mafia. It charts the rise and fall of ‘Il Professore’, from a childhood of extreme poverty to the leader of the ‘Reformed’ Camorra, and moving among the rich and powerful including the American Cosa Nostra, even while a wanted fugitive. It is a gritty, very well-made crime drama that portrays life and politics as it was when these syndicates cast their long shadow over the lives of every southern Italian against a hopelessly inert State apparatus. Shot in the style of a docu-drama, Tornatore adds an air of urgency to happenings with tactical use of rough edits, giving a journalistic feel to it, and the film is ably aided by the soundtrack – elements that I think were necessary considering the fact that the voice of Ben Gazarra (who plays ‘Il professore’) was dubbed, and he certainly ain’t no Al Pacino. It is nevertheless a fine film, and definitely Recommended Viewing.

Recommended Amazon DVD Link
(Italian original)
English Subtitles


The Nudity: Gilla Novak and others
The film’s brief scenes of nudity occurs courtesy of ‘Pelle-di-pesca’ (Peachy skin), an aide to the Cosa Nostra representative in Milan. She befriends and seduces Ciro, a close associate of ‘Il Professore’, whom he betrays. As retribution, both Ciro and Pelle-di-pesca will meet a terrible end in the hands of Il professore’s sister Rosaria, played by the Spanish actress Laura del Sol. ‘Pelle-di-pesca’ however, is played by a bold-as-ever Gilla Novak.

Gilla Novak in Il Camorrista

It required the likes of Gilla Novak to accommodate the brief but rather bold scenes of public nudity in Giuseppe Tornatore’s crime drama, “Il Camorrista”.



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