Zampa's debut as director in nothing could guess he would make some master chronicle about fascist years that is "Anni Dificile" (1948). Someone could appoint that both movies have narratives that touches in points of Italian historical past recent or not. In the case in question, however, this historical approach is very subordinated to generic conventions contemporary thrillers in Zorro-style. The own story of the real peasant that inspired the play that was adapted in this movie is very well designed to it. Perhaps the best virtue of this production, and probably the lasting one, is that it relatively free itself of its theatrical ancestry. The visual elements are there even in a much more popular way than in comparison to more pretentious and artistic "Piccolo Mondo Antico"(1941), by Mario Soldati, a mark of Italian cinema produced under Mussolini's years. Soldati's movie equally has a theme linked with Italian unification, although in a later period - here late 17th century and early 18th, there 1850s. The ambiguity of the character of Fra'Diavolo (Enzo Fiermonte) in relation to two women in love with him doesn't make him a romantic hero in a more typical way as Soldati's main character. Perhaps an womanizer sounds better and more virile to generic conventions and we couldn't forget that its linkage with American western isn't resumed to cavalry or shooting sequences. At least a dozen of other versions were produced to large and small screen, but the character was particularly popular in the silent years, when half of those productions were released - including a British and an American one (the last one made by Alice Guy).
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