Excellent Cadavers (1999)




Director:  Ricky Tognazzi.

Starring:  Chazz Palminteri (Giovanni Falcone), F. Murray Abraham (Tommaso Buscetta), Anna Galiena (Francesca Falcone), Andy Luotto (Paolo Borsellino), Lina Sastri (Agnese Borsellino), Arnoldo FoB (Judge Antonino Caponnetto), Ivo Garrani (Judge Gaetano Costa), Gianmarco Tognazzi (NinX Cassara), Pierfrancesco Favino (Mario), Mattia Sbragia (Judge Quinzi), Francesco Benigno (Pino Greco), Mario Erpichini (Judge Rocco Chinnici), Victor Cavallo (Totb Riina), Giuseppe Cederna (Judge Giuseppe Ayala), Stefano Benassi (Inspector).

battle waged against the Sicilian Mafia during the late 1980's and early 1990's


Good movie.  What is the name for government officials who defy the mafia?  Excellent cadavers.  During the late 1980s and early 1990's, legal war was waged on the Mafia of Sicily.  The movie deals with this struggle; about the man who led the battle Giovanni Falcone, who gained 300 Mafia-related convictions.   

In the late 1970's the peace in Sicily was shattered by a string of violent murders of high-ranking public figures. People said of the murder victims that they made "excellent cadavers," hence the name of the film.  It was war in Sicily and the government was losing. 

The movies starts at the end with an explosion that kills Judge Giovanni Falcone and his wife Francesca. 

The rest of the movie is told in flashback.  Giovanni Falcone returns to Palermo, Sicily.  Corruption is rife in all parts of the government.

May 2, 1980.  55 members of the Mafia are arrested to be tried under Judge Costa.  Judge Falcone is put on bankruptcies, but soon he is transferred to follow the money exchanges of the Mafiosa.  Falcone finds that all the Mafia families are working together. 

The Mafia strikes back, killing Judge Costa on the street. 

Judge Borsellino introduces Falcone to Francesca, a magistrate in the Court of Appeals.  It appears that they knew each other in the 7th grade.  This is the beginning of an important relationship in the judge's life.

General Carlo Della Chiesa, prefect of Palermo, is assassinated.  The fight against the Mafia thereby received a heavy setback, since it was generally felt that the General could handle the Mafia as he had successfully handled the fight against the Marxist organization, the Red Brigade. 

Judge Falcone gets a break when the Mafia turncoat Tommaso Buscetta starts confessing to him.  Buscetta reveals that it is Toto Reiina who has poisoned the Mafia with his escalation of the violence within and without the organization. The Mafia Benedict Arnold says that it is the Mafia Commission that orders all the hits and that the entire Commission should be tried.  And it comes to pass.  366 Mafia members are arrested and a mass trial is held. 

But things are not going to be so straight-forward.  There are going to be a number of set-backs on the road to justice.  Will Falcone be able to persist in his pursuit of justice in a country where about one-third of the members of the Italian Parliament have ties with the Mafia?  And, given the pressure on him, will he be able to have a meaningful relationship with Francesca?

You haven't seen brazen, until you have seen this movie about the devastating crimes of the Sicilian Mafia. What impressed me was the depth of control of the Mafia in Sicily and in Italy in general.  Hey, did they ever think about declaring martial law, and throwing the whole lot of them in prison?  I for one certainly would have considered it. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.


Historical Background:


See La Meglio gioventu (The Best of Youth) (2003)


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