Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5
Original title: I Compagni
Alternate titles: The Organiser, The Strikers
Italy/France/Yugoslavia, 1963. Lux Film, Vides Cinematografica, Méditerrannée Cinéma Production, Avala Film. Story and Screenplay by Agenore Incrocci, Furio Scarpelli, Mario Monicelli. Cinematography by Giuseppe Rotunno. Produced by Franco Cristaldi. Music by Carlo Rustichelli. Production Design by Mario Garbuglia. Costume Design by Piero Tosi. Film Editing by Ruggero Mastroianni.
Radical professor on the lam Marcello Mastroianni shows up in Turin in the late 1800s, a city on the verge of revolution. The exploited factory employees are tired of working 14 hour days with only a 30 minute lunch break and are determined to do something about it, but because of their lack of education and confidence are unable to be very effective. Mastroianni’s impassioned speeches and wise counsel put forward a powerful strike that gets the rich aristocrats who work the people nearly to death shaking in their boots, but as the story progresses it becomes apparent that victory will come with a very high price. This masterful gem by Mario Monicelli, better known as the director of comedies like Big Deal On Madonna Street, is magnificent because of the combination of unflinching details of harsh factory life in 19th century Italy and a lot of genuinely funny, but never silly or disrespectful, moments that make the story much more human. The photography is stunning, and Mastroianni gives one of his most charismatic performances.
The Criterion Collection: #610
Academy Award Nomination: Best Original Story and Screenplay