Renato Pozzetto is Barbisettie, an Italian Vaudeville comedian during The Great War, and as such performs a selection of actual war time ditties during the course of the movie. He keeps crossing paths with Aldo Maccione and Laura Antonelli, who play two no good swindlers named Tono and Mariana. Both men desperately try to keep themselves out of the war, yet Barbisettie longs to perform for the boys and Tono knows the war is the only place he can make any kind of profit. This film is much more serious than Renato and Aldo’s usual work, and as noted above, should certainly not be compared to Renato’s very surreal comic book adaption Sturmtruppen.
Renato’s character is the first to get drafted, Despite dressing up as a woman before the draft board. Not that the Italian army in this movie spends much time in the trenches, most of the time they are down the pup or off to a brothel, be it in a town or on a train (including Adriana Russo as one of the mobile prostitutes). Barbisettie ends up in hospital (and gets a chance to sing another period song), where by pure coincidences Mariana is pretending to be a nurse and Tomo a priest. But having been crosses by them once too many times, the vaudevillian spills the beans on Tomo, who is beat up by the other patients, forced into the regiment and becomes the butt of all their jokes for a while. Eventually the two men come to accept that better or for worse, they are stuck with each other. Tomo has no trouble slipping away from the front to visit his family, only to find out his best cow has been nicked by Mariana.
During the second half the tone of the film gets decidedly more serious. Although the two male leads keep up with the amusing banter and love/hate relationship, Laura Antonelli’s character encounters nothing to laugh about, especially when a German regiment finds out she’s been two timing them. The comedian and the crook find Mariana tending an old man in a shed, but true to their characters, fail to do anything to further the war effort for the rest of the film. Unfortunately the final acts’s crucial scenes involving Mariana’s attempts to blow up a dam don’t match up with the footage of the male leads at all (and it’s obvious the crew was only able to shoot the sequence once). This makes the rather depressing ending lose some of it’s impact. —IMDb
There’s no biography which resembles Horace’s as does Pasquale Festa Campanile’s. Like Horace, who was forced to move to Rome by his father, Pasquale Festa Campanile was forced to move to Rome to reach his father, a ministry official. He was born in 1927 in Melfi. There he spent the first part of his childhood with his grandmother, his mother being away. Perhaps, Horace was motherless, too, but he did not have a grandmother, but only a wet-nurse.
After the third year in primary school, Pasquale Festa Campanile turned his back on his town, to return every now and then. A page from Nonna Sabella, his first and most important novel, is very revealing in this regard: on a torrid day of July 1944 Michele, Pasquale Festa Campanile’s alter ego, makes return to Melfi on occasion of his aunt Carmelina’s death. A few days after his return to Rome, Nonna Sabella, typical Horacean name, joins him. She is shrew and strong-willed, willing, as much as her nephew, to reach the city at last… read more