In a magnetic performance, Vittorio De Sica is Bardone, an opportunistic rascal in wartime Genoa, conning and cheating his fellow Italians, exploiting their tragedies by promising to help find their missing loved ones in exchange for money. But when the Nazis force him to impersonate a dead partisan general in prison to extract information from fellow inmates, Bardone finds himself wrestling with his conscience for the first time. Roberto Rossellini’s gripping drama, among his most commercially popular films, is further evidence of the compassionate artistry of one cinema’s most important voices. —The Criterion Collection
Rossellini was one of the directors of the Italian neorealist cinema, contributing films such as Roma città aperta (Rome, Open City 1945) to the movement.
In 1937, Rossellini made his first documentary, Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune. After this essay, he was called to assist Goffredo Alessandrini in making Luciano Serra pilota, one of the most successful Italian films of the first half of the 20th century. In 1940 he was called to assist Francesco De Robertis on Uomini sul Fondo.His close friendship with Vittorio Mussolini, son of Il Duce, has been interpreted as a possible reason for having been preferred to other apprentices.
Some authors describe the first part of his career as a sequence of trilogies. His first feature film, La nave bianca (1942) was sponsored by the audiovisual propaganda centre of Navy Department and is the first work in Rossellini’s “Fascist Trilogy”, together with Un pilota ritorna (1942) and Uomo dalla Croce (1943). To this period belongs… read more
Can a coward turn into a hero? That's the question posed in Rossellini's exceptional wartime drama, a big success for him after a string of commercial failures and the winner of the top prize at the Venice Film Festival. De Sica proves that his talent behind the camera is equalled by his performances in front of it with a quite brilliant portrayal of a con man who impersonates a dead man to help his German captors...
Great acting by De Sica. You must fall in love with him whether he cheats, tries his luck, kisses germans shoes, and simply, with the way he moves in order to survive. Rossellini makes himself invisible, letting his characters speak for themselves, so you find the people who asks for their brothers and fathers simply heartbreaking. Maybe not the ultimate italian film, but one which tries the most extreme dilemmas.
In combutta con un ufficiale tedesco, Emanuele Bardone estorce denaro ai familiari dei detenuti politici, in cambio della promessa di una favorevole soluzione dei loro casi. Con tale ignobile attività si procura il denaro per le donne e il gioco d'azzardo. Finché, una delle persone ingannate, (una donna venuta a sapere che il marito è già stato ucciso) lo denuncia alle autorità naziste.
Our detail is a single shot done in a long-take from Rossellini’s 1959 film set in Genor during World War II.