Illustrious Corpses
Illustrious Corpses is a 1976 thriller film directed by Francesco Rosi
Francesco Rosi
Francesco Rosi is an Italian film director. He is the father of actress Carolina Rosi.-Biography:After studying Law, but hoping to study film, Rosi entered the industry as an assistant to Luchino Visconti on La Terra trema...

 and starring Lino Ventura
Lino Ventura
Lino Ventura , was an Italian actor who starred in French movies.-Biography:Born as Angiolino Giuseppe Pasquale Ventura in Parma, Italy to Giovanni Ventura and Luisa Borrini, "Lino" dropped out of school at the age of eight and later took on a variety of jobs...

. The film was screened at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival
1976 Cannes Film Festival
The 29th Cannes Film Festival was held on May 13-28, 1976. A new section, 'L'Air du temps', which is non-competitive and focuses on contemporary subjects, is introduced at this festival and discontinued after the next.- Jury :...

, but was not entered into the main competition. Its title refers to the surrealist game, Cadavre Exquis
Exquisite corpse
Exquisite corpse, also known as exquisite cadaver or rotating corpse, is a method by which a collection of words or images is collectively assembled. Each collaborator adds to a composition in sequence, either by following a rule Exquisite corpse, also known as exquisite cadaver (from the original...

, invented by André Breton
André Breton
André Breton was a French writer and poet. He is known best as the founder of Surrealism. His writings include the first Surrealist Manifesto of 1924, in which he defined surrealism as "pure psychic automatism"....

, in which the participants draw consecutive sections of a figure without seeing what the previous person has drawn, leading to unpredictable results, and is meant to describe the meandering nature of the film with its unpredictable foray into the world of political manipulations, as well as the ("illustrous") corpses of the murdered judges.


The film starts with the murder of District Attorney Vargas in Palermo, amongst a climate of demontrations, strikes and political tension between the Left and the government. The subsequent investigation failing, the police assign the protagonist Inspector Rogas (Lino Ventura) to solve the case. While he is starting his investigation, two judges are killed. All victims turn out to have worked together on several cases. After Rogas discovers evidence of corruption surrounding the three government officials, he is encouraged by superiors "not to forage after gossip," but to trail the "crazy lunatic who for no reason whatever is going about murdering judges." This near admission of guilt drives Rogas to seek out three men wrongfully convicted by the murdered judges. He is joined by a journalist friend working for a far-left newspaper, Cusan.

Rogas finds his likely suspect in Cres, a man who was convicted of attempting to kill his wife. Mrs. Cres accused her husband of trying to kill her by poisoning her rice pudding, which she escaped only because she fed a small portion first to her cat, who died. Rogas concludes that he was probably framed by his wife, and seeks him out, only to find that he has disappeared from his house. Meanwhile another district attorney is killed, and eyewitnesses see two young revolutionaries running away from the scene. Rogas, close to finding his man, is demoted, and told to work with the political division to pin the crimes on the revolutionary Leftist terrorist groups.

Rogas discovers that his phone is tapped. He seeks out the Supreme Court's president (Max von Sydow) in order to warn him that he is most likely the next victim. The president details a philosophy of justice wherein the court is incapable of error by definition. Music from a party in the same building leads to Rogas discovering the Minister of Justice (Fernando Rey) at the party with many revolutionary leaders, amongst them the editor of the revolutionary paper Cusan is working for, Galano, and Mrs. Cres. He and the Minister have a discussion, where the Minister reveals that sooner or later, his party will have to form a coalition with the Communist Party, and that it will be their task to prosecute the far-leftist groups. The murdering of the judges as well as Rogas's investigations help raising the tensions and justifying the prosecution of the far-left groups. Rogas also discovers that his suspect, Cres, is present at the party. Rogas meets with the Secretary-General of the Communist Party in a museum. Both of them are killed. Amongst raising tensions between revolutionaries and the government, who mobilize the army, the murder of the Secretary-General is blamed on Rogas by the chief of police. The film ends with a discussion between Cusan and the vice-secretary of the Communist Party, who claims that the time is not yet ready for the revolution and the party will not react to the government's actions. "But then the people must never know the truth?", asks Cusan. The vice-secretary answers: "The truth is not always revolutionary."


  • Lino Ventura
    Lino Ventura
    Lino Ventura , was an Italian actor who starred in French movies.-Biography:Born as Angiolino Giuseppe Pasquale Ventura in Parma, Italy to Giovanni Ventura and Luisa Borrini, "Lino" dropped out of school at the age of eight and later took on a variety of jobs...

     - Inspector Amerigo Rogas
  • Tino Carraro - Chief of Police
  • Marcel Bozzuffi
    Marcel Bozzuffi
    Marcel Bozzuffi was a French film actor, perhaps best remembered for his role as a brutal hitman in the Oscar-winning US film The French Connection...

     - The lazy
  • Paolo Bonacelli
    Paolo Bonacelli
    Paolo Bonacelli is an Italian actor.He is best known for his performance as The Duke de Blangis in Pasolini's notorious Salò...

     - Dr. Maxia
  • Alain Cuny
    Alain Cuny
    Alain Cuny was a French actor.He was born René Xavier Marie in Saint-Malo, Brittany, and studied medicine for a while before entering the film industry as a costume and set designer. Cuny started acting in the 1930s...

     - Judge Rasto
  • Maria Carta
    Maria Carta
    Maria Carta was a Rome-based Sardinian folk music singer-songwriter. She also performed in film and theater and, in 1975, she wrote a book of poetry, Ritual Song.She was born in Siligo, Sassari, Sardinia....

     - Madame Cres
  • Luigi Pistilli
    Luigi Pistilli
    Luigi Pistilli was an Italian actor of stage, screen, and television. In theater, he was considered one of the country's best interpreters of Bertolt Brecht's plays in The Threepenny Opera and St Joan of the Stockyards....

     - Cusan
  • Tina Aumont
    Tina Aumont
    Maria Christina Aumont , best known as Tina Aumont, was an American actress.She was of French Jewish and Dominican descent....

     - The prostitute
  • Renato Salvatori
    Renato Salvatori
    Renato Salvatori was an Italian multi-purpose character actor.-Biography:Salvatori was born in Seravezza, Province of Lucca....

     - Police commisary
  • Paolo Graziosi
    Paolo Graziosi
    Paolo Graziosi is an Italian actor. He has appeared in 50 films and television shows since 1962. He starred in the 1966 film A Gangstergirl, which was entered into the 17th Berlin International Film Festival.-Selected filmography:...

     - Galano
  • Anna Proclemer - Nocio's wife
  • Fernando Rey
    Fernando Rey
    Fernando Casado Arambillet , best known as Fernando Rey, was a Spanish film, theatre, and TV actor, who worked in both Europe and the United States...

     - Security Minister
  • Max von Sydow
    Max von Sydow
    Max von Sydow is a Swedish actor. He has also held French citizenship since 2002. He has starred in many films and had supporting roles in dozens more...

    - Supreme Court's president
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