Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion
Italian film poster
ItalianIndagine su un cittadino al di sopra di ogni sospetto
Directed byElio Petri
Screenplay by
Produced by
CinematographyLuigi Kuveiller
Edited byRuggero Mastroianni
Music byEnnio Morricone
Vera Film
Distributed byEuro International Films
Release date
  • 9 February 1970 (1970-02-09) (Italy)
Running time
115 minutes
Box office1.928 billion

Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (Italian: Indagine su un cittadino al di sopra di ogni sospetto) is a 1970 Italian crime drama film directed by Elio Petri, starring Gian Maria Volonté and Florinda Bolkan. It is a psychological, black-humored satire on corruption in high office,[1] telling the story of a top police officer who kills his mistress, and then tests whether the police would charge him for this crime. He begins manipulating the investigation by planting obvious clues while the other police officers ignore them, either intentionally or not.

The film was released in Italy by Euro International Pictures on 9 February 1970, to widespread acclaim from critics. It won the Jury Prize at the 1970 Cannes Film Festival, and the David di Donatello Awards for Best Film for Best Actor (Gian Maria Volonté). In the United States, it won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Petri and his co-writer Ugo Pirro were nominated for Best Original Screenplay.[2]

In 2008, the film was included on the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage’s 100 Italian films to be saved, a list of 100 films that "have changed the collective memory of the country between 1942 and 1978."[3]

Plot summary

A recently promoted police inspector, nicknamed "Il Dottore" ("the Doctor", an Italian honorific) kills his mistress, and then covers up his involvement in the crime. He insinuates himself into the investigation, planting clues to steer his subordinate officers toward a series of other suspects, including the woman's gay husband and a student leftist radical. He then exonerates the other suspects and leads the investigators toward himself to prove that he is "above suspicion" and can get away with anything, even while being investigated. He eventually confesses to the crime in front of his superiors - who refuse to believe him. Sure that he is safe, he recants his confession, and receives the approval of the police commissioner. The interrogation at his home is revealed to be a dream sequence and the film ends with the actual arrival of the commissioner and other colleagues.



Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion was released in Italy on February 9, 1970, where it was distributed by Euro International Films.[4] In Italy, the film had a domestic gross of 1,928,248,000 Italian lire.[4]

Critical reception

Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion was well received by critics and is widely considered one of the best international films of the 1970s. The New York Times called the film "a suspense melodrama with the moral concerns of angry satire [...] When it opened in Italy early this year (and later, when it was shown at Cannes), Investigation was hailed for the ways in which it exposed the corrupt, authoritarian practices of the police, who place themselves above their own laws [...] The story moves forward with a relentless momentum. It is a political parable, and a stunning movie."[5]

The film has a Rotten Tomatoes approval of 100% based on 15 reviews, with an average score of 8 out of 10.[6] On Metacritic it has a score of 89 out of 100 based on 10 reviews.[7] David Fear of Time Out called it "[a] paranoid police procedural, a perverse parable about the corrupting elements of power, and a candidate for the greatest predated Patriot Act movie ever [...]".[8] Kenneth Turan called the film "as troubling today as when it came out in 1970. Maybe more so."[9]


The film was highly regarded in its own time, winning the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film,[10] and both the FIPRESCI Prize and the Grand Prize at the 1970 Cannes Film Festival.[11] Also it won the Edgar Award for Best Motion Picture from the Mystery Writers of America.[12]

Cancelled remake

The Cannon Group had hoped to remake the original film with Andrei Konchalovsky (of Runaway Train fame) attached to direct. Paul Schrader was attached to write, as he wrote both a story treatment and a screenplay. It was going to have either Al Pacino or Christopher Walken to star in the remake. Originally, Cannon released an ad, planning to shoot in October 1987, and having it premiere it at Cannes in 1988, although it never got made as it was shelved.[13] It remained shelved until in the 90s, when it was resurrected by Jodie Foster's production company Egg Pictures. Sidney Lumet was attached to direct, but the film never made it beyond pre-production.

See also


  1. ^ Weber, Bill (5 December 2013). "Blu-ray Review: Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion". Retrieved 6 September 2019.
  2. ^ "Investigation of a Citizen above Suspicion" Wins Foreign Language Film: 1971 Oscars
  3. ^ "Ecco i cento film italiani da salvare Corriere della Sera". Retrieved 2021-03-11.
  4. ^ a b Curti 2013, p. 39.
  5. ^ Canby, Vincent (1970-12-21). "Film: 'Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion':Suspense Melodrama Opens at Baronet". The New York Times.
  6. ^ "Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (1970)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2022-04-01.
  7. ^ "Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion [re-release]". Metacritic. Retrieved 2022-01-01.
  8. ^ David Fear (10 September 2012). "Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion". Timeout.
  9. ^ Kenneth Turan (26 September 2003). "Saga of power and crime". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2022-01-01.
  10. ^ "The 43rd Academy Awards (1971) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2011-11-26.
  11. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion". Retrieved 2009-04-10.
  12. ^ "Edgars Database | Search the Edgars Database". Archived from the original on 2019-12-23. Retrieved 2019-11-14.
  13. ^ Cannon: Alterd/Unproduced Projects, archived from the original on 2018-11-02, retrieved 2016-07-13


  • Curti, Roberto (2013). Italian Crime Filmography, 1968-1980. McFarland. ISBN 978-0786469765.