Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
USA, 1969. Stanley Kramer Productions. Screenplay by Ben Maddow, William Rose, based on the novel by Robert Crichton. Cinematography by Giuseppe Rotunno. Produced by Stanley Kramer. Music by Ernest Gold. Production Design by Robert Clatworthy. Costume Design by Joe King. Film Editing by Earle Herdan, William A. Lyon. Academy Awards 1969. Golden Globe Awards 1969.
The Italian hamlet of Santa Vittoria decides, in the early forties, to oust their current leadership in favour of placing a drunken lout of a wine merchant (Anthony Quinn) as mayor. He takes the job with fervor but it does nothing to improve his standing with his nagging wife (Anna Magnani) to whom he will always be a loser. History intervenes in this heretofore ignored village when Nazi soldiers descend upon the population and demand that its inhabitants give up their “secret”: the location of vast stores of wine that Santa Vittoria is famous for producing. This Stanley Kramer film, based on the novel by Robert Crichton, is overproduced in a self-important manner that kills the light comedy with which it means to deliver its sobering historical situation. Having actual Italian actors playing Italians in an Italian setting but with English dialogue spoken in ridiculous linguini accents makes it practically impossible to watch: Magnani comes off more like she’s performing in an SCTV skit than in a genuine film, particularly since the role riffs off of the kind of loud-mouthed firebomb that she was so well known for playing at that point.