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Erich von Stroheim,
Mary Beth Hughes,
During WW2, American G.I. Frank Keeler has a job driving a supply truck for the company's quartermaster.His unit is stationed in Amalfi, Itali. Frank steals many goods from the quartermaster and he sells them on the black market, garnering a small fortune. When the Military Police gets alerted about his activities, Frank decides to bury his money along the highway.He marks a nearby tree with his carved initials.Despite his efforts, the Army arrests him and sends him to a military gaol for 4 years.After his release, Frank decides to return to Italy and retrieve his hidden loot.He gets a job on a freighter in order to gain trans-Atlantic passage to Italy. Aboard the freighter, Frank gambles with other sailors, looses, and writes many IOUs to his friend Vince whom he assures of prompt re-payment of debt once they arrive in Italy.On their arrival in Naples, Frank goes ashore to retrieve his loot and Vince becoming suspicious of Frank decides to follow him ashore.When Frank arrives at the ... Written by
Where the movie really succeeds is as a character study. Bridges' ex-army man Frank Keeler comes across as unusually unsympathetic. We see him first as a penny-ante black- marketeer. Then, after serving a term in the brig, he cadges money from his buddies, but runs out on the debt. And if that's not bad enough, we discover he ran out on his Italian girlfriend and now, back in Italy, wants to use her again. Yeah, he's something of a rat, and only returns to Italy to dig up his buried army loot. Bridges is excellent, with an appropriate swagger and cocky self-assurance. And we don't so much root for him as wait to see what happens next.
Filmed on location in Italy, the authentic background helps overcome a rather muddled plot, especially the murky intrigue with American gangster Conway. What's really apparent, however, is the influence of Orson Welles' The Third Man (1950) from the previous year. Here, director-producer Wilder emulates much of Welles' complex visual style in a story that also resembles Welles' tale of post-war European intrigue, even down to the guitar accompaniment in place of the highly popular zither of The Third Man. Nothing necessarily wrong with this, except Welles is a really tough act to follow.
Anyway, It's an appropriate ending that achieves some poignancy without betraying Frank's selfish character; thanks also to Aldo Fabrizi's sly performance as the wily caretaker. All in all, it's an obscure movie, likely because of the absence of big name stars. Nonetheless, Bridges shows here how much talent there is outside those big name stars.
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