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Webb Carey returns to Orta, near Milan, to find out who betrayed his World War II O.S.S. team and caused the death of several villagers. His old love Julie, whom he thought dead at the hands of the Nazis, is alive and married to the Barone. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
Beautifully filmed, with Italian post-war issues looming, and Ladd at his best
Captain Carey, U.S.A. (1950)
A vastly underrated movie. Not that this is "Casablanca" although there are traces of the same idea, if deliberately backward. A romance is derailed by war, a solitary American exudes indifference, foreign intrigues brew, and the Nazis roam at night causing trouble.
The setting is Italy, at first during the war, and then three years later. The man, Alan Ladd (at his best, I think), is an OSS officer and when he returns, as a civilian, you know he has an agenda and a dangerous background. And a girl he once loved who is dead.
Or so it goes. The plot is reasonable and actually fascinating. It doesn't unfold with elegance, exactly (you can see a lot of the gist coming), but it is all told beautifully and quickly. The photography is really first rate, notable on its own terms once you look, all by John F. Seitz, one of the era's greats. Between him and Ladd, and some really wonderful sets and convincing back projections, the whole experience is a thrill to inhabit, to feel. And things do happen, with caricatures that make enough sense to work--the blind musician, the rich and mysterious husband, the doctor with suspicious knowledge of everything (he calls Ladd "baby" in a nice American colloquialism).
What the movie lacks most of all is a title. I can't believe it hasn't at least been released again with something better, something that hints at the Italian post-war angst that is the meat of the movie. Because this is what makes the murderous intrigues more than just cinematic fillips. In fact, this is another parallel to "Casablanca" (that was no joke above): the movie has a hidden purpose, to help the American public reconcile with the most conspicuous of German Allies, the Italians. It is layered, interesting, and dramatic. It lurches every now and then, and I suppose Ladd, as good as he is, is no Bogart, and certainly his love interest, played by Wanda Hendrix, is no Ingrid Bergman (Hendrix is a weak link all through, actually, more girl next door than the movie needs).
Give this a whirl, and expect something quite a bit more than others, and the title, have suggested.
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