Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5. Italy/France, 1959. Zebra Films, Société Nouvelle des Établissements Gaumont. Screenplay by Sergio Amidei, Diego Fabbri, Indro Montanelli, Roberto Rossellini, based on the novel by Indro Montanelli. Cinematography by Carlo Carlini. Produced by Alain Poire. Music by Renzo Rossellini. Production Design by Piero Zuffi. Costume Design by Piero Zuffi. Film Editing by Cesare Cavagna, Anna Mara Montanari. Academy Awards 1961.
Superb war drama marks a very high point in director Roberto Rossellini’s career. Vittorio De Sica gives a magnificent performance as a n’er-do-well gambling addict in occupied Italy who creates a financial mess for himself by gambling away the money he takes from Italians in need of favours from his German officer friends. When his tricks catch up with him, he strikes a deal with a high-ranking officer to impersonate an executed General who was meant to be taken alive and go to prison under his name in an effort to help the Nazis find out the identities of resistance members. His experience in the slammer ends up awakening a political consciousness in him that he can never go back from, and the results are devastating. Amazing movie that holds your interest for a two and a half hours without letting go.