Onofrio, the Marquis del Grillo, is a member of the nobility close to His Holiness Pius VII. Boredom prompts him to make regular forays among the common people, accompanied by his friend Ricciotti with whom, in disguise, he frequents Rome’s taverns.
During one of these secret excursions Onofrio meets a coal merchant named Gasperino, a coarse drunkard who however is the spitting image of the Marquis. Onofrio persuades Gasperino to swap roles, so that Onofrio can follow the beautiful Olympia to France.
Meanwhile, the pope has condemned Onofrio to death; Gasperino, now standing in for the Marquis del Grillo, is arrested.
The day of the execution arrives. Onofrio is among the crowd that has gathered to watch. Although struggling with his conscience at the thought of an innocent man going to the gallows in his stead, he is even more upset that the pope sentenced him to death in the first place – and hatches a plan. –Berlinale
Although associated with the 1950s period of commedia all’italiana, Mario Monicelli’s career hearkened back to Italy’s silent era; being in fact a predecessor to Italian neorealism rather than succeeding it. Born in Tuscany in 1915, Monicelli gravitated to cinema early in his life, entering the film business in the early-30s. His first films were co-directed with Alberto Mondadori, most notably a silent film adaptation of Ferenc Molnar’s The Paul Street Boys which won an award at the Venice Film Festival. Monicelli alternated as an assistant director and writer for other film-makers along with his own projects. His first solo feature was Summer Rain, made in 1937. He first achieved renown for a series of films starring Italy’s famous comic Totò. Initially co-directed with Stefano ‘Steno’ Vanzina, Monicelli went solo with Totò e Carolina.
His first major film also marked his first collaboration with the screenwriting duo, Age & Scarpelli. I soliti ignoti (1958), better known… read more