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  • Detective Montalbano ( Il Commissario Montalbano ) is a film rendition of a classic series of detective novels written by Andrea Camilleri.

    Our hero Salvo Montalbano, played by the excellent Luca Zingaretti, is a chief detective (Il Commissario) working in the province of Ragusta, Sicily, Italy. Salvo lives a single life, is a gourmet, and a long-distance swimmer with a beautiful ocean-front house.

    Salvo is confronted with crimes that require his wits, stamina, and a the ability to deal with political and bureaucratic pressures to close cases " quickly " and without stepping on the wrong toes, unless of course, they belong to his subordinates.

    He manages to somehow accomplish this and also maintain a relationship with his distant and " long-suffering " girlfriend, Livia, living on the mainland in Genoa ( not counting the beautiful women he encounters on-duty in Sicily ).

    I first saw episodes of this RAI program in Germany where it remains very popular, and began buying the Camilleri novels in the US. I also started collecting the 18 volume DVD collection, which are available from the EBAY Italia website. MHz Television in Virginia, deserves a big credit for introducing the Detective Montalbano series to North America with English subtitles, although the Mhz film quality is somewhat grainy and less colorful when compared to the original DVD.

    The original novels jump between Italian, Siciliano, and a mix of both. The films make good use of the mainland Italian detectives assigned to Ragusa having to contend with the local police staff language and Sicilian customs. As mentioned in the review above, Catarella, a local officer at the front desk is enjoyable when both confronted by, and confusing to, Salvo Montalbano.

    If you have been to Sicily, or plan on visiting someday, you will enjoy this series by RAI. Highly recommended !
  • paul2001sw-120 April 2012
    For those of us raised on 'Inspector Morse', 'Inspector Montalbano' comes as a welcome breath of Sicilain air. Not that I didn't like 'Inspector Morse' per se; just that Morse, and his Swedish clone Wallander, fit a certain stereotype of a detective, namely the brooding, grumpy old man. Montalbano, on the other hand, is also a stereotype, but a very Italian one. He wants an easy life, good food, a relaxing environment, if he loses his temper occasionally, it's only out of frustration of things getting in his way, on the other hand, if he's faithful to his girlfriend, that's only because being involved with two women would be just too complicated. He, and the rest of the cast, play their roles as comic Sicilians to perfection: and while this might not be altogether serious drama, the combination of Mediterranian beauty, comedic moments and ropey murder plots makes for a very agreeable evening's viewing. On seeing my first episode I was underwhelmed; but once you know the characters, it's great fun.
  • Set in Sicily, Italy, and based on a series of novels, INSPECTOR MONTALBANO has proved successful in various parts of Europe. I caught it on BBC4, the cultural channel of the BBC. It takes a lot to infuse what might be termed an over-familiar genre with touches of originality, but INSPECTOR MONTALBANO achieves this task successfully. This is chiefly due to the interplay between the three main characters (Luca Zingaretti, Angelo Russo, Cesare Bocci), who work successfully as a team yet continually bicker with one another. The shooting-style also helps; there is an extensive use of outdoor locations - as opposed to the uniformly gray interior sequences of many British detective series - and a greater reliance on pans and zooms, rather than shot/reverse shots. This gives the series an epic feel, despite the familiarity of the story lines. The scripts are tautly written with plenty of opportunities for throwaway lines from the main protagonists. Definitely worth a look as a refreshing alternative to Anglo-American detective series.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The series (movies) are good stories of detection as we really want to know who did it and why; but they also reveal the complexity of Commissario Montabano: A man committed to serving his town even at the cost of having a personal life. My wife and I enjoy the "real time" passing built into the movies and would suggest you watch the series in order. While the focus is on Montabano you also watch the supporting cast grow: "Mimi" Augello the assistant Commissario and ladies man; Fazio, (son of Montabano's mentor) the young, dependable detective inspector; Catarella the officer who provides humor through his bumbling but yet proves to be a valuable asset to the team. And throughout there is a fine supporting cast who bring real personality to their roles. On occasion we suspect some of the actors are actual location residents who were pressed into service as the performances seem so real.

    Montabano's Sicily and town of Vigàta have a real non PC feel. The Mafia still is a presence; and the police department has to deal with not only administrative incompetence but with contemporary social issues and the normal boring run of the mill crimes that plague modern life. The series is a refreshing thinking police/crime drama that keeps your attention and involves you in the lives of the characters. After a while, you even forget the actors are speaking Italian and you are reading subtitles.
  • Another MhZ International Mystery classic and I am told they are in production creating more shows for us that we should stay tuned for (according to MhZ news). Luca Zingaretti is the Italian Maigret and Sherlock Holmes. The relationship he has with his team is hilarious but serious. All the stereotypical Italian nuances you might have learned about in America are born and bred here and are obviously authentic. The funniest person on the show is the clerk, his name starts with a C, Campellini or something like that. He is an Italian Kramer (Seinfeld). The best show with the clerk is the one where he shoots the bad guy, whom he catches while taking a pee on a sting. I've seen Luca in other films, which I have tried to find on Netflix, but hands down this is the best role for him and the one that turns him into a huge sex symbol - for me and all his fans on Facebook.
  • I really like this series of DVDs. I have read all of the novels by Andrea Camilerri and I think they have done a good job of capturing the "spirit" of Montalbano: he appreciates good food, beautiful women and chasing bad guys...not necessarily in that order as his long suffering girlfriend Livia finds out when he investigates a case while telling her they are on holiday.

    Not speaking Italian, I have to read the subtitles, and they have done a very good job since I don't read particularly fast and I still don't have to resort to the pause button on the DVD player all that much.

    The thing that I appreciate the most is the scenery of Sicily. Camilerri's books can't give you a true sense of how beautiful it "seems". I say "seems" because I find the portrayal of daily Sicilian life a little strange: there are hardly ANY people milling about in the background of most of the exterior shots. There isn't any real car traffic either. I don't know anything about Italian cinema so I can't say how common this might be. Perhaps there are union rules which make actor "extras" too expensive. I suspect it might be an artistic choice though. It certainly makes you want to visit this imaginary Sicily though: beautiful beaches and historic ruins completely devoid of tourists in T shirts and flip flops. Also, while Camilerri's books do indicate that Montalbano's house overlooks the beach...you don't really get a sense of how unrealistic that might be until you see it on the DVD: they must pay police detectives 20 times what they pay them in real life for him to afford his "house". After you see the house, you expect his car to be a Ferrari, but, strangely, it seems pretty ordinary.

    To sum up, even if you aren't a huge fan of mystery or police procedurals, you can enjoy these DVDs simply for the stunning scenery: it might be better than actually going there and coming up against the realities of modern life.
  • Love detective mystery dramas and non-English/American ones also fascinate me. 'Inspector Montalbano' is one of the best and most entertaining examples. It is not easy breathing freshness into a well-worn genre but 'Inspector Montalbano manages to do so with aplomb.

    Watching 'Inspector Montalbano' is, as said in my review summary and one that to me is apt, like eating a delicious Italian meal that immensely satisfies and leaves you wanting more. There may be very familiar tropes, but in a way it's inevitable and doesn't detract from the enjoyment at all. A couple of stories (like last night's "The Mud Pyramid") may not be as engrossing as most others, or have the most logical, easy-to-follow-entirely plots or the most cooked-all-the-way-through denouements, but this doesn't matter when far outweighed by the rest of the show being so good.

    If you love all things Italian (with them having some of the best scenery, food and music of any country) and love detective mystery dramas, 'Inspector Montalbano' will be right up your alley most likely. It's beautifully shot always and the scenery is stunning, making those who've never been to Italy want to book a holiday there as soon as possible. The music is never over-bearing or low-key with a nice atmosphere and flavour.

    Scripts are always tautly written and infused with beautifully balanced and hilarious humour. The subtitles are not hard to follow, while the cases are absorbing and rarely feel convoluted while suitably challenging the viewer. The characters may be stereotypes but well-written ones, especially one of the most fascinating foreign detective mystery dramas titular characters there is to me and the scene-stealing Catarella (hilarious comic relief but more than that).

    Acting is terrific, especially from Luca Zigaretti who is a treasure in the title role. Angelo Russo's comic timing is a refreshing and always perfectly timed joy. Direction is always paced beautifully and tight while sometimes appropriately deliberate.

    Overall, brilliant. 10/10 Bethany Cox
  • Yes, Salvo is the right toyboy for the ladies and an impatient chief for the police station. I like him and his logic even there is Catarella, the nuisance got a name, and Mimi being the limited officer by his side. Fazio is the bright officer who can follow Salvo's mind. After all this is a film reflecting Sicilian attitude at its best. This is one of the best police drama's I have seen even it can be comical at times.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Inspector Montalbano ("Il commissario Montalbano") is based on the novels of Italian writer Andrea Camilleri. The books have been expertly translated into English by Stephen Sartarelli. If you have read another of my reviews about the Finnish series "Private Eye Varies," you'll know I am a fan of the Scandinavian mysteries, which are simply brilliant. The Italian mysteries are brilliant, as well, but in very different ways. Montalbano is a stellar example of the latter. These Italian mystery shows are often humorous, contain a strong message of morality, and the major characters are usually bigger than life. Sometimes (as in the Don Matteo mysteries), the relationships of the characters are really what the show is about, and the mystery is… ancillary.

    The Montalbano action primarily takes place in Vigàta, Sicily. One of the great joys of this series is watching the astonishing Sicilian regional actors hired to do "bit" parts. One can only sit in wonder at the talent on display. And the fascinating physical appearance of many of the actors. It is truly spectacular. These "minor" roles often bring a lot of humor to the series. You'll find yourself watching, mesmerized by them, and for a brief time totally taken away from the main plot (which, inevitably, you always are led back to). One of my favorites is a woman who plucks a chicken while being interviewed. It is unforgettable acting. Another favorite scene is with a man and his parrot, the latter singing "The Internationale." It is so fantastic to watch Montalbano as he (respectfully) interacts with these crazy characters. There are, in fact, too many such scenes to mention.

    Montalbano has been played since 1999 by the amazing actor Luca Zingaretti. If Inspector Montalbano epitomizes Italian mysteries (arguable, to be sure), Zingaretti is the embodiment of the actors. He's brilliant. He plays both tragedy and comedy with equal skill. And I just love watching him. He is a joy. He reflects us in his bemused but respectful treatment of the odd characters he meets. Zingaretti seems to be an actor who brings out excellence in all those with whom he shares scenes. He is indeed special.

    For an American audience, the seemingly exaggerated gestures made by Montalbano and others can be a little off-putting (I believe this is somewhat intentionally done in the series – I remember wondering at first if Italian men really, REALLY, behave that way), but there is nothing off-putting about Zingaretti. Nor the other wonderful major characters: Fazio, Augello and Catarella… And, oh but can I single out Catarella for special mention? This would seem to be a sort of "stock" Italian character – comic relief, to be sure. We see similar characters in other series (Natalina in Don Matteo, for example), too. But Catarella stands out. He's truly one of a kind. And I laugh every time he runs into Montalbano's door. Every single time!

    There is a lot of political and social commentary in the books, and this comes out in the movies. It would be easy to say "Italy is a messed up place," and, for sure, the country and Sicily have a history and reputation that are undeniable. But Montalbano is loyal and true and just. He can do things that are surprising because they would seem to be outside of the law. But ultimately, he is evenhanded and fair. This "fairness" is pervasive in the books and the series.

    One of the things I like most about this series is its languid pace. There are scenes that go on forever, where nothing happens, and you start to wonder how they can even exist. For example, scenes where Salvo Montalbano is just walking along, going somewhere, thinking. They go on and on. It's wonderful and so very different from the ADHD sort of Law and Order shows we are used to in this country. Another of my favorite things is how beautifully done this series is. The sets are often spectacular, whether it is the inside of someone's apartment, or inside an abandoned warehouse, or even inside an old, unused, underground tunnel. They are, visually, masterpieces to behold.

    This is a great series. Very much worth watching. I am so glad that Zingaretti has not grown tired of the role. That all the actors are still making this series. And thanks to MHz Worldview International Mystery for airing shows like this and others in the U.S. I can't come close to expressing how glorious (and important!) it is to have these international productions available.

    And note: Inspector Montalbano is so beloved and popular that another series, a prequel: The Young Montalbano ("Il giovane Montalbano") was made starting in 2012. It is equally excellent. This second, prequel, series has much to offer, in both similar and different ways. Watch for my review!
  • Montalbano is great fun and a welcome change from the prevailing British detective/PI trope - a sullen, morose depressive living gloomy landscape, usually morning his lost wife, Alzheimer's ridden parent, etc. He lives in an equally depressing tiny apartment and eats TV dinners. I'm not sure why this trope is so prevalent, but I suppose they think that depressing equals deep and profound.

    Along comes Montalbano, who lives in sunny Sicilian in a splendid sea front apartment and dines on fine food. He is lively, excitable, and constantly gesticulating, a classic Italian stereotype. He really doesn't seem to have a care in the world apart from making sure that his next meal will be superb and avoiding another crisis with his long distance girlfriend Livia. (In the later books, he worries about getting older, but this never comes up in the TV show.)

    The show takes you into a world you haven't seen before. The sun, ocean and parched landscape with old, pastel, partially crumbling buildings are almost unreal. This is enhanced by the complete absence of other people or vehicles on the streets. Originally, this was the result of the producers trying to find a place that would be quieter and easier to shoot. Later, they concluded that it added a dreamlike quality to the production and did it on purpose. They were right. (It is jarring to see the prequal, Young Montalbano, where the streets show a normal amount of activity.)

    The plots are OK, ranging from typical serial killings to kidnapping, etc. It is all done in a gentler way than we are used to seeing. In Sicily, it seems, relationships are more important and less judgmental. It is just a slower, more languid life down there in the heat and the sun. This is reflected in the virtual absence of violence, although he and his men sometimes wield their guns and there is a small amount of gunplay in some episodes.

    However, the main reason for watching is the Sicilian landscape and the characters. Montalbano commands the loyalty of his equally excitable, team, most prominently Mimi, his number two and unabashed ladies' man, and Fazio, his absolutely reliable assistant. There are also lesser team members, such as Galuzzo, who is a little fast on the trigger, and Gallo, who drives like a madman, plus a few more. And, of course, there is Catarella, the comic relief who has major trouble opening and closing doors and can never get a name right. (He is even funnier in the books, where the translation does much more with his rapid speech and Sicilian dialect.) Perhaps the best secondary character, however, is the medical examiner Pasquano. I also like Balduccio Sanagra, the elderly Mafia Don. He is far more authentic and convincing than anyone you've ever seen on the Sopranos or any American show.

    He and Montalbano engage in a running dialog of mutual insults that is often hilarious. (Again, this portrayed much better in the books.). The show is also unusual in that it doesn't center on polished looking 20/30 somethings. Most the people you see on screen are over forty and many are elderly with all their rough edges showing. Even the minor characters have, well character. They look and talk like authentic Sicilians, probably because they are.

    There is some downside to the show. The continuity is very poor at times. Montalbano often suddenly shows up in a different place with no explanation for how or why he got there and what he wants to do. It is very helpful to have read the books to follow the TV show, which also often omits much of the background and rationale for his actions and conclusions. Reading the books helps, but this show really needs much better editing.

    Following the subtitles is difficult at times. The actors also speak very, very fast. I mean very fast. The subtitles change rapidly. Even then, they must severely truncate the dialog. You sometimes hear a word of Italian or a name in the dialogue that doesn't appear in the subtitles. I can seldom watch an entire two-hour movie in a single sitting with eye fatigue. The translation itself also often leaves a lot to be desired, as it often contains obvious, nonsensical errors.

    Lastly, it is hard not comparing the TV show to the books. I have already mentioned where the books are far better. As might imagined, they are better at explication and translation. Camilleri also does a lot of word play make a lot of literary references that don't appear on TV.

    While the books are generally better than the TV show, the TV does have some advantages over the books. The books are riddled with Camileri's leftist ideology, especially on issues of immigration and occupational safety. Fortunately, the TV show omits most of it. (The British could learn a lesson from this.) The Montalbano of the books is never described (apart from having a mustache), so seeing him gives a much stronger impression of what he is like.

    Overall, Montalbano is a nice change despite the shortcomings. It takes you into a world you haven't seen before with humor, a slower pace, and a set of wonderfully colorful and authentic characters. But I'd read the books first.
  • trishms20 July 2019
    Love this show..it has everything..drama tension violence and a cool clever Inspector who is very intelligent and funny.Relationships are loyal and rich..while I'm learning the beauty of the language and the scenery.Music is superb🎶 💕.....
  • I am trying to understand why I like this series so much, and look forward to each new episode. There is so much quality in every aspect of these films it's hard to say what specifically is so attractive about them. Although the characters and the texture is pretty much the same across the series, each film has its own significant theme that keeps it interesting. It's more a thinking and feeling show about realistic people, magnificently done, than a show about physical violence.

    We follow patient detective work slowly unraveling an intriguing mystery with unforeseeable twists ad turns, never as is often the case with detective series, unrealistically improbable. The stories present intriguing puzzles, always neatly and plausibly solved at the end (unlike many TV mysteries).

    Many of the shows revolve around love stories, or multiple love stories. Romantic love is often the redeeming value in the lives of these people.

    Montalbano is a dedicated, conscientious detective who is above all kind-hearted and compassionate, often even with people who comitted the crimes. He does not hate or revile them, he understands them, which is exactly why is he is good at his job. He is not your typical hard-boiled, depressed detective. He enjoys life, and he loves people. He has a stable long distance relationship with a wonderful woman. He doesn't have any mysterious powers of observation like Holmes, or an amazing power of logical deduction like Poirot. He relies on the exhaustive collection of facts and his acute insight into human nature to unravel the crimes. Much of the time we are watching him interview witnesses; we learn the background facts when his trusty assistants come to his office to quickly brief him after days tedious research we never see. I suspect there is more footage of him ecstatically eating traditional Sicilian dishes, for he is a serious and picky food connoisseur, as of him looking for clues at the scene of the crime. He has a small but elegant home right on the beach. On his beach he takes a daily morning swim before savoring an espresso on his patio. In the evening, when she is in town, he makes love to his beautiful partner. After solving a case, having witnessed the depths of human suffering and injustice, he heals himself with long walks by the ocean.

    One reason to watch movies is to see exotic places. The films are loaded with gorgeous cinematography of gorgeous Sicilian scenery and cityscapes, as well as many gorgeous actors. These shows have the production values of fine cinema more than of TV shows or made-for-TV movies.

    The show is also hilarious at moments. The comedy is character based, the brilliant portrayals of the foibles of the various main characters depend equally on the writing and the acting. The characters are unforgettable like the cuisine, complex, spicy and rich. The actors portray them down to the bones.

    Another big plus is that the show is a cross-section of Italian and Sicilian in particular, culture and society. You can see into the social issues, and the peoples lives, much more than you can by merely being a tourist. For example, some shows deal with the mafia, some with immigration, some with violence against women.

    I read a review that complained of the lack of action and violence. It's true, this is a detective series with the minimum of violence to move the story forward. The crimes of violence, and there are usually only one or two per episode, are portrayed in a way to capture the horror without any grind-house indulgence in sadism. I recall only one big shootout in all 34 episodes (through 2018). If you want violence and action, this is not the series for you. The stories are a chiaroscuro in which the acts of hatred and greed, that springboard the mystery plot, serve to bring forward contrasting love and compassion.

    It also complained of overacting. If you have ever seen how people can react to the sudden and unexpected death of a parent, spouse or child, you know that this cannot be overacted. The performances are true. In many cases the sentiment is distilled, like wine into cognac, as is appropriate to portray the depths of feeling in a few moments on screen. People routinely bare their hearts to Montalbano, and so to us. This is a cross-section of human psychology, and a cross section requires cutting through the surface of reality to uncover the truth underneath.
  • Every episode is a feature film. Visually beautiful, great casting, musical language, solid mystery construction, expressive of human frailties. A little creepy with lots of older men with beautiful young women. Sure the formula shows thru after a few eps but I never tire of the country and expressive characters.
  • Being of Italian descent I was really pleasantly amused by this (and Young Montalbano, too among others). At times it is like watching my family - the tones, the gestures are the same. The attitudes are similar - take care of business, good food, relax when possible. I could identify with all that. The comic relief may, at times, be a bit too light, but the characters carry it off really well. Mimi and Catarella are fun when they get flustered about something. They do make me laugh. M also reminds me a bit of a less serious Poirot when he uses the ending to explain to a group what has been going on and how his logic was used to arrive at a determination. There is also the romantic facet, not serious but realistic enough to identify with the way its played out. You can understand how and why Livia gets so exasperated even though it seems he does truly love her as the exception to all others. I sincerely regret that Mhz is only showing one season as is true with numerous other detective series Italian as well as others. They need to bring the full show - all seasons - on board. Gran divertimento!
  • I have watched all the seasons to date and have noted a significant decline in the writing. I gave it 5 stars because of the early seasons but the latest series, 2019, is just a waste of time. It's as if all involved in the production have got tired and want to move on to doing something else. The repetitive depiction and stereotyping of "Siciliana", is overdone and becomes annoying after a while. It may be that it remains popular in Italy but certainly wont sell globally. I think after a while the production team should know when to wrap it up and allow Montalbano to exit gracefully before it sinks to a new low.....a terrible way to end what started as a good series!
  • jmcshera29 May 2019
    Don't know how this has gone on for so many seasons. Plots are somewhat ridiculous as are some of the characters. Scenes in the city show absolutely nobody around walking the streets. Why would people think that the lad who walks into the door of Montalbano's office is repeatedly funny when it wasn't even funny the first time. Italians obviously have an unusual sense of humour. It's like a bad Italian version of Midsomer Murders.
  • Convoluted and silly plots shown told through a series of interviews with witnesses, etc. Apart from the scenery dull and boring, very little happens. Only Italians get this series/approach to drama. I doubt it sells much abroad. And why always deserted? Is it filmed Sunday and they clear people off the streets!
  • I have to admit that every time I watched this series on TV, my feelings were a mix bag full of disgust, ridiculousness and helplessness. Allow me to tell you why: This series is supposed to be a quite serious drama, because it involved murders, homicides, heavy crimes, thefts, forgeries, assaults, drugs and so on that needed Montalbano and his detective on that island to solve those crimes. But the amateurish screenplay writer didn't know the exact procedures of police works, he just dreamed up everything that he thought to be easily and conveniently added into the storyline, the scenarios and the plot. His poor logic also could not distinguish what a police drama should be, all he could come up was just "would be(s)". Nor he could distinguish the genres between drama and comedy or, comedy and farce.

    In order to dramatize the series for those who got the same problems of logic, I mean, the viewers, this screenplay writer had made Luca Zingaretti who played the role as Commissario Salvo Montalbano, a quite old, bald, short built, bow-legged actor, to become a sex symbol from Italy, making lot of female characters fell for him, allowing him to get involved in a lot of romantic entanglements, and then finally, got him a fiancée from Genoa, a much taller woman who always threatened to leave him and dissolve the long and tiresome engagement.

    Since the screenplay writer could not clearly distinguish what a drama from a comedy or a farce, what qualifications needed to be a policeman, he put a guy, a very controversial character, an actor named Angelo Russo, to play the role of Agente Catarella, a extremely stupid yet extremely capable character in the police force, as the receptionist, phone answering shtick, a clumsy, awkward almost to a moron-level stupid guy to be a policeman, and at the same time, since the screenplay writer did not have the basic education in logic, he also made the stupid guy a quite competitive and smart computer researcher. What a baloney! A moron/clown-like guy could be a policeman? It only happened in a Italian TV series.

    Then again, there were countless problematic flaws in the directing and the editing. For instance, let's just take from those scenes from the latest Season3, the poor sequences of the different times of the day were just astounding: You have to pay closer attention to how they poorly edited and patched the sequences of the time; they left from the place to investigate a crime scene at night, yet when the next scene appeared, it suddenly became a day time with sunshine. Are you telling me, from A place to the B location needed at least 12 hours on that island? When Montalbano met his fiancée in the broad daylight, then suddenly in the next scene coming up, it was after dark late at night; again, meeting in the early afternoon outside of the police station, then got in the car, drove away, then reached the restaurant around 8:00PM? How far they went? they drove from the east of the island to a restaurant on the west side? There were so many scenes and settings that couldn't link logically. I just wish that I could be an Italian, then all the stupid arrangements and the logic problems would be solved and disappeared. Then again, there is a very encouraging message to those who are bald, short built with bow legs and over 50s, don't be in despair, guys, you could be as sexy as the main character, Commissario Salvo Montalbano.
  • This series of 36 episodes runs out of steam at episode 5. I find the fact that every episode has to show some T&A disgusting. It shows they did not think the drama could hold our attention, and it does not.