This is a brilliant war film expertly directed by Rossellini and beautifully acted by De Sica. It shows the lengths people will go through to help others even if they are not capable of doing so and then the ultimate consequence that people initially pay for their actions.
A really offbeat World War II drama, even for Rossellini. The director eschews his signature neo-realism (think Open City) for artificial backdrops that allow him to tell his story of shifting alliances and redemption. He humanizes his characters -- not only De Sica's grifter but also the German colonel who shows war-weary empathy. The only fault: The ending, while grisly, is a bit jingoistic.
De Sica is, as always, magnetic. Rossellini is, as always, sublime. Another beautiful exposition by Europe's post-war generation. This is a straight forward character study that pits brutality against frailty, principle against the raw will to survive. We can only hope that one day our artists will examine the post-911 world with such sensitivity.
I had seen this before, but forgot how perfect De Sica performs for Rossellini. This is both their subject matter in terms of human psyche reconstruction and an important Italian film to witness... Even today. Amazing locations, set design and filmed capture. Italian extras play well, as usual, with the actors... A trait that started a decade earlier with neo-realism. These masters still had it in their blood.
The problem with these World War 2 films is the Nazis. There's just no grey with them. Their purpose is to allow people to be courageous in defiance of them. I don't know if he was a coward as much as he was a con man. Of course it's a perfect role for a director to play because they pretty much have to be con-men to get their films made.
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.