Sunday, 27 April 2014

Inspector de Luca (2008)

Following in the wake of a series of successful DVD and Blu-ray releases of crime shows from Scandinavian countries (THE BRIDGE and ARNE DAHL have been my favourites so far and I’ve yet to catch up with THE KILLING) Arrow Films now gives us something a little more Mediterranean, in the form of these four movies made for, and aired on, Italian TV back in 2008. These shows are six years old, and therefore the last thing you want to do is start watching them thinking you’re going to get the Italian version of so-called ‘Nordic Noir’ because INSPECTOR DE LUCA isn’t like that at all. 
Based on a series of novels by the famous detective author Carlo Lucarelli, Arrow’s DVD set presents all four feature-length stories that were made at the time, and these span a narrative time period of ten years between 1938 and 1948. The fascist and early post-war setting give an added resonance to these police procedurals and allow our fictional detective hero to move seamlessly amongst real-world events and characters.
The first story ‘Unauthorised Investigation’ takes place in 1938. The body of a murdered prostitute is found on the beach near one of Mussolini’s holiday homes. Her pimp is arrested and found guilty of the murder but if that were truly the case it would make for rather a dull 110 minutes of television. de Luca gets the usual ‘stay out of this’ and ‘you can investigate all you want but you’re on your own with this one’ from his boss that we’ve seen many times before as it gradually becomes apparent that the untouchable Italian aristocracy might be involved with the girl’s death. Could Mussolini himself have anything to do with it? After all, you don’t introduce an infamous fascist dictator in Act I and then not have him instrumental in proceedings by Act III.
      Far from the grim contemporary settings of modern Scandi-crime ‘Unauthorised Investigation’ feels more like Poirot but with nudity and a more run-of-the-mill hero. If your tastes veer towards period ‘cosy crime police procedurals’ with subtitles then this could well be the thing for you.
      The second story ‘Carte Blanche’, takes place seven years later in 1945. The war is coming to an end but because the area of Italy in which he works is still fascist de Luca is considered a hero for once saving Mussolini.  We stay in 1945 for ‘The Damned Season’ a couple of months later, where opinions have changed and de Luca is now thought of as a villain for his political connections. The series concludes with ‘Via Delle Oche’, set in April 1948. The changing political climate adds spice to the otherwise straightforward crime stories, whose plots I won’t describe here as if you like this kind of thing hopefully you know by now whether you’ll want to watch these. There are no extras.

Arrow Films released Inspector de Luca on DVD on 14th April 2014

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