A couple of years after playing a corrupt, evangelically right wing, borderline sociopathic cop in Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion, Gian Maria Volonte played a corrupt, evangelically right wing, borderline sociopathic newspaper editor in Slap the Monster on Page One. He’s Bizanti, the top dog at Milanese paper Il Giornale, who’s always on the lookout for new ways of justifying the publication of anti-communist, anti-youth, anti-working class rhetoric. And he sees a great opportunity for more of this nonsense when a young anarchist is named as the likeliest suspect in the murder of his attractive and thoroughly middle-class ex-girlfriend. So he works with the police to ensure his conviction, plastering his accusations on the front page and blaming it all on the increasingly liberal modern society… even though he knows full well that the poor dude isn’t the real killer.
It’s a surprisingly short film, which is good because it ensures that the pace is maintained even though it’s often dialogue heavy and veers regularly into political diatribe. The photography is wonderful and Marco Bellochio’s direction is efficient. Volonte contributes a powerhouse performance, but even so it’s not as memorable or impressive a film as Investigation (which it seems to have been at least partially inspired by).