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132 of 135 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Charismatic Sicilian Detective Takes Life As It Comes
BBC Four has done us all a service, promoting a string of colourful and varied crime series from Europe. Brooding dramas from Scandinavia (Wallander, The Killing), gritty ones from the ghettos of Paris (Spiral) and now, uniting many of their qualities under the seductive glow of the Sicilian sun, Inspector Montalbano. He is very much the star of his own show, brooding...
Published on 4 Mar 2012 by Philoctetes

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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Why no 16x9 enhancement?
This is a fabulous series, and it is great that Acorn have released it here in the UK in nicely affordable editions.

But why have they decided to release it in 4x3 letterbox and not full height, 16x9 anamorphic to maximize the picture resolution? The inherent prints of the episodes are in good condition (as they ought to be as the oldest episode only dates...
Published 20 months ago by R. Curzon


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132 of 135 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Charismatic Sicilian Detective Takes Life As It Comes, 4 Mar 2012
By 
Philoctetes (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Inspector Montalbano: Collection One (2 Disc) [DVD] (DVD)
BBC Four has done us all a service, promoting a string of colourful and varied crime series from Europe. Brooding dramas from Scandinavia (Wallander, The Killing), gritty ones from the ghettos of Paris (Spiral) and now, uniting many of their qualities under the seductive glow of the Sicilian sun, Inspector Montalbano. He is very much the star of his own show, brooding like Wallander or Lund but not to the extent he forgets how to finesse people, turning the case details over in his mind and suddenly laying it out for the police commissioner, so that whatever tricky plan devised by corrupt civilians or tenebrous mafiosi was intended, Montalbano has seen through it and refused to take the easy conclusion.

Montalbano is clearly a man of integrity but also a survivor in a land of great food and hot loving (both amongst his 'likes') as well as vendettas and sudden violence. He knows how to handle people, when to keep his cool, when to show his emotions, when to be philosophical, but for all his apparent autocracy at the local police HQ his life is repeatedly touched by unexpected realities - sorrows, hurts both mental and physical, as well as the on/off relationship with his girlfriend, Livia.

The actor playing I.M; whose name I haven't memorised, brings a boyish charm and excitability to the character, ably running the gamut of emotions. There is a welcome vein of humour in the daily activities of the inspector and his motley bunch of assistants, including a doofus cop at reception - a character portrait British writers would avoid for fear of offending the Offended League of Great Britain. With long episodes one is reminded of ITV's Morse, but instead of opera and trips to the pub we get seaside sunsets, sex and trips to the local bistro. As with Morse one never really knows how he does it but being younger, sexier and when you add the greater emotion on display among these latins (in contrast to the buttoned-up Brits) I.M. makes for the more compelling viewing. On the flipside, you kind of know you're in safe hands all the time with I.M, in contrast to the often horrific goings-on in Paris and Copenhagen.

Perfect entertainment.
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118 of 122 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Latin Morse, 25 Feb 2012
By 
Antenna (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Inspector Montalbano: Collection One (2 Disc) [DVD] (DVD)
In our insatiable thirst for detective thrillers, foreign language productions have the benefit of introducing us to a different way of life in a setting which might well suggest the location of our next holiday.

In this case, the drama is set in the fictional Vigata, a quaint old stone-built town spreading over a hilly Sicilian coastline bathed in perpetual sunshine. Detective Montalbano occupies an elegant flat overlooking the Mediterranean where he can relax swimming at the end of each stressful episode.

We are introduced to a slow-paced (apart from the crimes, that is) way of life revolving round food - a man will put the enjoyment of a good meal before rushing to greet his lover - and the extended family, where relatives and workers gather on a sunny terrace to consume plentiful meals together.

Smartly turned out and astute, Montalbano somehow commands the respect of his staff despite the kind of volcanic outbursts which would have him sent on an anger management course in Britain. Like most detectives, he is on shaky terms with more senior officials, perhaps in part owing to his tendency to break the rules, but survives in his post, probably because he always seems to solve the crime in hand, usually through his ability to make deductions from very slim evidence.

The denouement is often unpredictable, partly because the very complicated plot tends to have a few twists which are hard to follow - and to be honest at times implausible. It's quite fast-moving, so with the sub-titles as an added constraint you have to concentrate.

Overall, it's worth watching as the characters are well-developed, the dialogue is amusing, the cases have intriguing aspects, and all does not end happily in every respect - there is a gritty undercurrent, say in the suffering of Tunisian immigrants in "The Snack Thief" or the continual hints at bribery and corruption amongst higher ranking officials, making the "honest" Montalbano a rarity.
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87 of 93 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Euro Crime, 14 Dec 2011
By 
Bruce S. Herford "et tu Brute!" (Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Inspector Montalbano: Collection One (2 Disc) [DVD] (DVD)
This magnificent series covers the first four feature-length episodes and were originally viewed by me in Australia when SBS TV began broadcasting them circa 2004 and have been on my "must watch" list ever since. If you love the French TV "Spiral" or the Swedish "Wallander", you should have no problems enjoying this series. In Australia, the DVDs releases from Aztec International are now up to the 5th box set and they are PAL format and Region free - excellent for playback in the U.K. or Europe without any playback issues.

The episodes are based on the stories by Andrea Camilleri and are relatively faithful to the books according to my now ex-partner, from Venice, who read the original novels in Italian. Beautifully filmed throughout Sicily and making great use of outdoor location shots, the local architecture, history and culture, as well as the brilliant Mediterranean light and of course the sea.

Luca Zingaretti as the title character "Il commissario Montalbano" is a Sicilian detective. He's a brooding, well-dressed, extremely sharp detective and quite attractive to the ladies he encounters.

This is definitely one of the best Euro-crime series around, and definitely the best from Italy IMHO, although I did enjoy the brief and ill-fated BBC co-production "Zen" which was based on the books by the late Michael Didbin.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why the piecemeal release schedule?, 13 Mar 2012
By 
Mr. T. A. Maurice "Film Addict" (Essex,England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Inspector Montalbano: Collection One (2 Disc) [DVD] (DVD)
One has to ask why the piecemeal release schedule for this series,when one bears in mind that the early films date from 1999-2000,and all 22 films in the series have been released in the USA.
For me,the great strength of the films,apart from some fiendishly complex plots,is the way they bring to life the Southern Italians' love of life,food,wine,and beautiful women(not neccessarily in that order) mixed with great touches of humour.
Amongst the cast,my favourite is Angelo Russo who gives a marvellous comic performance as Catarella,and is at times a real scene stealer.
Having watched the films more than once,one discovers afresh certain scenes,segments of dialogue,or plot development,which did not fully register first time around.
This may be due to the great speed with which certain conversations are conducted.
I have to say I love this series,if only for the happy memories it evokes of life in the South of Italy,but more so for it's great combination of complex,interesting stories,comedy,great characters,and excellent actors-hence five stars.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars YES BABY!!, 6 April 2012
By 
J. Mero (Norway) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Inspector Montalbano: Collection One (2 Disc) [DVD] (DVD)
Hoi, where are a couple of more stars to give this supercharming and engaging series the appreciation it deserves??
Followed it on SBS in Australia, and the addiction is like that for Minder with George Cole and Dennis Waterman.
Here you have solid stories, real human characters, exquisite scenery and minimal, if any, blood and gore.
In addition the series is the best possible advertising for tourism to Sicily!
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HUMANITY & WARMTH, 24 April 2012
By 
Mr. D. L. Rees "LEE DAVID" (DORSET) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Inspector Montalbano: Collection One (2 Disc) [DVD] (DVD)
Sicily's Commissario Montalbano is very much his own man. Not for him is the often offered promotion, which would mean sitting at a desk. Instead, after his morning swim, he is out and about in glorious scenery, heading investigations of the latest crimes.

Four episodes, each almost two hours long (although they do not seem it). Viewers may be pleasantly surprised at how easily they cope with the subtitles.

Luca Zingaretti heads the impressive cast. One cannot help warming to his charismatic Montalbano, he very much an action man but also with compassion. Movingly he turns a blind eye to minor infringements, secretly bending the law a bit to help those in need. A particular pleasure is the way he inspires loyalty in his men (especially Fazio), tactfully outmanoeuvres a resentful so-called superior, and deals with people generally. Note, for example, that scene where he has to break sad news to his former teacher, she now so old. Forget they are acting. This seems for real.

The cases intrigue, occasionally veering in totally unexpected directions - heartrendingly so in the final two episodes. Also appreciated is the underlying humour (one performance admittedly OTT, but harmlessly so).

A series that entertains and uplifts. Warmly recommended.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Montalbanotastic, 4 May 2012
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This review is from: Inspector Montalbano: Collection One (2 Disc) [DVD] (DVD)
This is a must have for lovers of the quirky italian detective. Food loving, whisky drinking Montalbano holds his detective team together with a unique style of leadership, helped along by his sidekicks. One - Mimi - has a character that develops over the series, and in fact all the characters grow and develop over the series both in themselves and their interactions with each other mature, even the bumbling Catarella. Catarella is corrected on more than one occasion on his language and pronunciation, and offers up the humour element (which seems a bit cruel and perhaps unfairly discriminatory), but he turns things on their head when he becomes the station computer whiz kid. You get a trip down memory lane with the pre-computer approach to crime solving in a pre-euro world, but this does not last long as computers and euros become the new normal. The plots are super, very twisty turny, with a bit of the italian - sicilian - mafia, and police testosterone driven politics thrown in for good measure. Montalbano often has to resort to a tangental means to get his outcomes, but he gets them, whilst juggling with his girlfriend who, fortunately for him, lives a plane ride away. Food comes first in his world. All wrapped up in fabulous scenery, with villains operating in ancient and fabulously stylish, if somewhat faded, surroundings. The witnesses too live in old but elegant houses, and seem at the extremes of real, a bit larger than life (extermely old, extremely religious, extremely talkative, extremely barmy. This series has been criticised for being sexist. It is of its time - sexism is part of our history.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very true to the books, 4 Mar 2012
By 
S. Curtis "Italophile" (Shropshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Inspector Montalbano: Collection One (2 Disc) [DVD] (DVD)
I really love this series as it is very true to the books. Montalbano is extremely well cast, attractive, sharp, well dressed with his love of food sometimes being shown but not overdone in an over-romanticised way. The gritty story lines with deep undertones, murder, prostitution, corruption, illegal immigrants, are handled well and at a human level as Montalbano often shows compassion where it's least expected. All this mingled with humour and the fabulous location which, again, isn't overdone as some sort of travelogue, hit just the right notes. There are some laugh out loud moments which don't descend into farce but reflect real life when you look hard enough. The only reason I don't give it five stars is my disappointment at the casting of Livia, who has been dubbed throughout the series which is a bit distracting (I'd love to know why)and Ingrid who just isn't "beautiful" enough for the character in the book. (Being picky I know) All in all, extremely well done.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Entertainment, 5 April 2012
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This review is from: Inspector Montalbano: Collection One (2 Disc) [DVD] (DVD)
Pacey, interesting with great story lines. The wit comes across even with sub titles....you cant miss a line ! The characters of these great books come alive in this series......
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Salvo - Foodie, Swimmer & Detective, 16 Mar 2012
By 
Sussman "Sussman" (London CA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Inspector Montalbano: Collection One (2 Disc) [DVD] (DVD)
We are introduced to Inspector Salvo Montalbano, who works in the fictional town of "Vigàta", in the equally fictional district of "Montelusa" in Scilly. Where the Sun is bright and life treads at a different pace, amongst classic bleached white villages and towns that would look out of place in a tourist guide book. In this almost Mediterranean idle there is darkness,decay and at times murder.

He and the members of Vigata's small police force, namely Mimì Augello, Montalbano's second-in-charge, Fazio, Gallo, Galluzzo and the incredibly stupid yet very likeable Catarella, who mans the station's phones, among other minor tasks. While his whole team have suffered from his out bursts, and sometime strange management style he cares for them and in turn they are all very loyal to him, none more so than his girlfriend of 8 plus years. Salvo is a foodie, with a passion, and he rarely permits anything to get between him and good meal,including other social commitments. He is also an avid swimmer, so much so, his apartment is set on the beach front.
Luca Zingaretti who plays the major role really brings the detective to life; his characterisation for me is spot on. His case work always varied, and never what you would expect to happen happens - there are red herrings and misdirection!
In Salvo's work nothing is black and white; mainly his cases are in the grey zone. As one reviewer put it his cases do not have happy endings, while his investigations sometimes leads to organized crime, his stories rarely get totally focused on the Mafia rather they are part of the landscape and environment of where he works in and around.

The last few years have seen a plethora of foreign detective series from around Europe each series of any real credit brings fresh cultural nuances, behaviour and identity of their own. After years of British and American detective series these shows, are like a new revelation. While some may hate subtitles I can assure you that to see and hear these shows as they were originally broadcast is always best and I find them all the more enjoyable.

My only minor gripe was the extras seemed too `light', and I also thought there would have been more episodes on the discs.

If you like detective stories then this series are not to be missed
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