Death Insurance/Assicurazione Sulla Morte (1987)

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‘Serie Nera’ was a series of French television films produced primarily in co-production with other European countries. In total there were 32 films and the series ran from 1984 to 1991 with most films based on novels by famous crime authors, in particular what the French dub ‘polar’ – or the more familiar ‘poliziesco’ in Italian. Although very popular in France, RAI only purchased 8 of the films in the library to screen in Italy which suggests they probably didn’t go down too well with Italian audiences.

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Plot: A down on his luck insurance agent is seduced by a client and coerced into murdering her husband so they can collect the insurance money.

Based on the novel ‘Tell it to the Birds’ by James Hadley Chase, ‘Assicurazione sulla Morte’ (Lit. Death Insurance) seems to be a serious attempt by RAI to produce a homegrown polar for the Italian market, possibly enthused by the series’ success in France. It also marks the beginning of director Carlo Lizzani’s transition from cinema to television, along with director of photography Marcello Gatti.

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French actress Patricia Millardet was a relative unknown at the time and was personally chosen by director Lizzani. She would go on to enjoy a long period of success on Italian television throughout the 1990’s with ‘La Piovra’ (seasons 10 to 20) before enduring a personal meltdown in the early 2000’s. Lead male actor Giovanni Vettorazzo seems to have worked almost exclusively in television although he did make an appearance in the psychological thriller ‘In Fondo al Bosco’ released theatrically in 2015.

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