Francesco Rosi first received critical attention for his La Sftda then I Magluui, and two years ago, for the outstanding study of the Sicilian bandit Sahatoie Ciuhano. His new film, Hands On The City tackles another aspect of corruption: corruption in local Government.
In the Naples of today a building operator and his colleagues on the City Council, decide to exploit a piece of land in a remote suburban area which they have cheaply acquired. In spite of accidents, in which lives are lost in spite of a complete expose of their political manoeuvrings by the Communists, they are still able to make alliances at the elections which enable them to proceed with their plans at the expense of the public purse and safety.
Rosi's film is almost documentary in its analysis ot how corruption spreads, and he relentlessly pursues his objectives. He deliberately concentrates on his characters' political functioning to the exclusion of their private life. Rod Steiger gives a powerful performance as the real estate czar, and Salvo Randone is also excellent as his corrupted right-wing councillor. The fact that the role of the Communist, who is the moving force behind the expose of corrupt practices, is played by an actual Communist City Councillor of Naples, adds further piquancy to the picture. The film has created a political furore throughout Italy because of its implied criticism of official laissez faire in factual dealings of a similar nature.