The film, written by Risi in collaboration with Ettore Scola and Ruggero Maccari, shows a cross section of life in Italy in the middle of the boom years, seen through the figure of an exuberant, irresponsible, shallow man who is at times also generous and friendly. He is the perfect incarnation of Italian society in those years.
In the suffocating, oppressive heat of the August fair holiday, Bruno Cortona cruises the streets of Rome in his powerful Lancia Aurelia Sport. Quite by chance, Bruno meets Roberto, a young university student. Bruno, whose days are split between dodges and car races, is separated from his wife and has a young daughter who is going out with a much older industrialist. Meanwhile Roberto, a shy and awkward young man, is fascinated by the carefree, easy life Bruno leads. The young man agrees to spend the day with Bruno, who pours forth advice on life, based on his own experience. The two men move from one place to another: a tobacconists, a restaurant and then they come to Castiglioncello, where Gianna, Bruno’s ex wife lives together with the couples bored daughter, Lilli. After spending the day with the two women, Bruno decides that the following day they will go to Viareggio. But the journey ends tragically, with Bruno racing at lunatic speed in the car and losing control on a bend, killing Roberto. –Italica
Dino Risi was born in Milan on 23 December 1917. He began his cinematographic career as Mario Soldati’s assistant on Old-Fashioned World (Piccolo mondo antico) in 1940 and then as Lattuada’s assistant in Giacomo the Idealist (Giacomo l’idealista) in 1942. During that period he also contributed to the scripts of the films Anna by Lattuada (1952), Totò e i re di Roma (1951) by Steno and Monicelli and Sunday Heroes (Gli eroi della domenica) by Camerini (1952).
After a series of short films (the most famous of which was Buio in sala), in 1952 he moved to Rome and produced his first fictional feature film, Vacanze col gangster. In 1953 he directed Paradiso per tre ore, an episode in the film Love in the City (L’amore in città) (the other episodes were produced by Antonioni, Fellini and Lattuada), his first experiment with a genre that he was to specialise in over the coming decade.
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