“Damiano Damiani, the Italian film director who scored a massive worldwide hit with the Mafia TV series The Octopus, died at his Rome home aged 90 Friday,” reports ANSA. “Friuli-born Damiani first gained acclaim with the Mafia thriller The Day of the Owl (1968), an adaptation of the novel by famed Sicilian writer Leonardo Sciascia starring Franco Nero and Claudia Cardinale. He went on to direct several films with Mafia themes, including How to Kill a Judge (1975), again with Nero, The Warning (1980), Pizza Connection (1985) and Dark Sun (1990)…. Pasolini called Damiani ‘a bitter moralist hungry for old purity,’ while film critic Paolo Mereghetti, for his style, described him as ‘the most American of Italian directors.'”
“His 1971 film Confessions of a Police Captain won the Golden Prize at the 7th Moscow International Film Festival,” notes Voice of Russia.
Thomas Groh‘s posted two trailers in remembrance.
Update, 3/11: “Making sensation- and suspense-filled genre pictures was Damiani’s way of life,” writes Alex Cox for the Guardian. “When the scripts were bad, the resulting films could indeed be monotonous. But when they were good, the films could be extraordinary—as in the case of A Bullet for the General (known as Quien Sabe? in Italy and Spain), his first western.” It’s “the story of a mysterious American, seemingly adrift in revolutionary Mexico, who falls in love with a social bandit, El Chuncho. The screenplay was co-authored by Franco Solinas (The Battle of Algiers). Like many Italian filmmakers of the time, Solinas was a leftist and believed that film—not just art film, but popular, commercial cinema—demanded storytelling which would radicalize the viewer, and encourage social change. Damiani clearly agreed, and together the two men created a subgenre: the tortilla western, set south of the border, where revolutionary Mexicans form uneasy alliances with interventionist gringos against their respective governments.”