The Little World of Don Camillo (1952) Poster

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Such a treat!
LeRoyMarko22 September 2002
This movie is so much fun to watch! Tells us the story of Don Camillo, a Roman Catholic priest in a small Italian parish. Life in the village is change forever when Peppone, the communist mayor, is elected. The two are put one against the other. And what follows is a wacky list of situations! What I like most about this movie, it's the simple way it puts things. You can actually believe that this village exists and that what's being told in the movie really happened.

Fernandel is great as Don Camillo, the hot-headed priest. And Gino Cervi shines in the role of Peppone. See this one, you won't regret it. Fun from beginning to end!

Out of 100, I gave it 87. That's good for ***½ out of ****.

Seen at home, in Toronto, on September 1st, 2002.
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English-dubbed version of classic Don Camillo film is a winner
philosophymom18 September 1998
(Since I originally submitted this review to the IMDb, an English-subtitled DVD of "The Little World of Don Camillo" -- and of its first sequel, "The Return of Don Camillo" -- has become available in the US. However, I still think that a fan might be interested looking at in the old dubbed version, if he or she can find it.)

This film is the first in a series of five shot in the 1950s and 60s based on Giovanni Guareschi's well-loved "Don Camillo" stories. The joint Italian-French productions were made with the involvement of the author himself, who wrote screenplays and Italian dialog for various entries in the series; therefore, most consider them to be the official movie versions of the Don Camillo stories. Guareschi is quoted as warmly approving of the way that stars Fernandel and Gino Cervi brought to life his two famous protagonists, the battling parish priest and Communist mayor of a small village in post-war Italy. Today, more than forty years after the series was completed, the films are still played on European television, dubbed into a variety of languages. Unfortunately, however, they are all but unknown to English-speaking fans (particularly American ones) of Giovanni Guareschi and his wonderful characters.

But this need not be, for "Le Petit Monde de Don Camillo" (1951) does exist in an English-dubbed version. The only one of the five films to get the treatment, it is quite well done (once you get around the fact that it's dubbed in the first place). "King of Dubbers" Robert Rietti (Rietty) takes on the roles of both Don Camillo and Peppone, while none other than Orson Welles provides the voice-over narration and, in that capacity, the voice of Christ which Don Camillo hears in answer to his prayers. The narration is intrusive at times (they got their money's worth out of Welles), but the movie overall is a faithful adaptation and interweaving of some of the more memorable early Don Camillo tales.

As the story opens, we meet hot-tempered Don Camillo complaining to the Lord about the recent election of the town's Communist contingent. The new Mayor, Peppone, is a particular thorn in Camillo's side, as the two have had an on-going rivalry which only escalates after the election. Conflicts abound: Peppone wants to have his son baptized "Lenin," but Don Camillo has other ideas. The priest has been trying for years to scrape together the money for a town recreation center, then suddenly the Communists tap an unorthodox source of funds and build their own "People's Palace." Peppone wants to fly the Red banner at a church procession, and he doesn't take Don Camillo's veto well. Don Camillo invests heart and soul into a soccer match between the church's team and the Party's, and he doesn't understand why the Lord declines to take a side. The Communists call a strike against the local landowners, but Don Camillo is determined to save the neglected farm animals. And somehow, amid all the sometimes humorous, sometimes serious conflict, a Catholic "Juliet" and a Communist "Romeo" have fallen in love. Can priest and mayor lay down their fists and help them?

I should add, for the *very* knowledgeable Don Camillo film fan, that the dubbed version of "Little World" is based on the Italian rather than the French cut of the original movie (director Julien Duvivier and the mostly bilingual cast shot the two versions simultaneously). Thus, certain scenes that appeared in the French release but were excised by the censors in stricter Italy will not be in the English version.

I believe the dubbed version of "The Little World of Don Camillo" is still available in vintage video catalogs (that's where I got my VHS edition in 1998), and it's worth looking for, especially for fans of the warm and whimsical tales on which it is based.
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A marvellous, warm, charming, adorable Italian film.
Spleen25 May 2000
...Actually, of all those adjectives, `Italian' was the first to leap to mind. I can't believe the IMDb has decided to classify this film under a French name. `Things happen there that could happen nowhere else in the world,' says the narrator. It's easy to believe.

The Catholics and the communists are battling for the soul of a small village. It's to be hoped that neither side ever wins. Nor is it likely that either side ever will win. This would spoil everyone's fun.

The communist mayor, is, so to speak, the Anglican of the two: someone who will gruffly talk about burning all the capitalists, while letting it be understood that he doesn't really intend his words to be taken literally. The priest (Don Camillo) is hot-headed, as fiercely loyal to the Catholic Church as the mayor is to his party, at once highly intelligent and preternaturally simple minded. He's the kind of Catholic who avoids absurdity by the time-honoured trick of simply not thinking about the doctrines to which he officially subscribes. His `prayers' are impromptu conversations with Jesus, or perhaps simply with the icon of Jesus that hangs on his wall - whichever it is, the film humours his fancy by having Jesus (or the icon) talk back to him. To this day I'm not sure if Jesus (or the icon) is REALLY talking back, or if it's just Don Camillo's imagination. What does it matter? It is, after all, no more than a private eccentricity. It's not as if he talks to or about Jesus in PUBLIC.

No one - not atheists, not communists, not Christians, not Norse pagans - could object to the film's big-hearted fantasy, or fail to like either of the two very likeable protagonists. I gather there are several sequels: the one I've seen isn't nearly as good; and the original feels so much like an archetype that I suspect any sequel would be little more than a footnote.
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Humor simplicity and humanity by Giovanni Guareschi
psagray9 September 2012
It's the first interpretation of French actor Fernandel as "Don Camillo", the character created by Giovanni Guareschi. In Brescello, a small town in the Po Valley, where the local pastor, "Don Camillo", live continuous confrontations with "Peppone", the Communist mayor.

In 1948 Giovanni Guareschi wrote a wonderful book, great in quality but have a simple style in keeping with its theme, and that today is not properly valued. "DON CAMILO", illustrated with great humor and humanity of life in small rural towns Po River Valley, where even the quarrels between neighbors were to take the tremendous too. Four years later, director Julien Duvivier take to film the stories included in the book, to be followed by two other films.

In the cast we have the brilliant comedian who plays Fernandel certainly his most remembered, "Don Camillo", a priest of great faith and Christian spirit, but unorthodox methods and involved in small-town politics. The same it faces a Communist mayor, "Pepón" (Gino Cervi), good man, but tough and stubborn. And other mediating between the crucified Christ is the altar of the church (voiceover Ruggero Ruggeri), who does not miss the slightest fault "Don Camillo". They turn around the fortunes of the other villagers, enlisted on the side of the priest or the mayor and therefore as fiercely as they faced, but allies when the situation requires.

The film does not keep the order of the episodes as they appear in the book, but nobody cares and perhaps very few have noticed, because what really matters is that it has captured the spirit of the work, which can not be said the film on the same character that was made in 1983 with Terence Hill as "Don Camillo".
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Right and left.
Gerald A. DeLuca9 August 2001
French comic actor Fernandel embodied the title role while remarkable Italian character actor Gino Cervi played his spiritual and political opponent. More than a rustic comedy, the film epitomizes the postwar political polarization in Italy and symbolizes the famous "compromesso storico"---historical compromise---under which Italy would long continue to be governed. This successful film spawned a series of popular sequels, mostly with the same two actors, all based on the Giovanni Guareschi novels. A point of clarification: this was a French-Italian co-production and was first released in the U.S. in its French-language version with English subtitles before the dubbed English version with narrator Orson Welles went into circulation. The Italian-language version, not readily available, is the most appropriate one.
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Absolutely Perfect Light Comedy
David Le Sage8 March 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Don Camillo is, quite simply, one of the most heart-warming films ever made. Fernandel is perfectly cast in the title role, bringing Giovannino Guareschi's gentle short stories to life.

The gentle humour and warm tone of the film allows it to convey its morals with nary a hint of didacticism.

The comic potential of the ideological (and physical!) clashes between the fiery but lovable priest and his nemesis, the Communist mayor of the village, is fully exploited. Fernandel's facial expressions and timing are superb, as is the warmth he conveys.

For those unfamiliar with the Don Camillo tales, Jesus (in the form of a crucifix on the church wall) guides (and frequently rebukes) Don Camillo, for his imperialistic attempts to try to win the hearts and minds of the villagers away from the Communist Party.

Jesus literally functions as the moral adjudicator of the ideological war between the priest and the mayor, finding both equally guilty of empire-building. He frequently reminds Don Camillo of his duty to show compassion and love to his flock when Camillo becomes more interested in scoring points against the communists. It is Jesus who understands the peasants and has faith that everything will be fine in the end. Jesus understand the villagers more than they understand themselves, and shows empathy for them even when the priest feels they are insulting Him.

Although ostensibly Roman Catholic, Christians of all other denominations will gain an enormous amount from watching this film.

With its light touch, perfect casting and warmth, this is the perfect comedy. Very faithful to the original books, this film is highly recommended to young and old.
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Very good but I think the next film in the series is a bit better...
MartinHafer25 August 2011
By the way, the version I watched was not dubbed but subtitled. I mention this because one of the reviewers talked about seeing a dubbed version but this was not available on the DVD I watched. And, if it had been, I would have chosen the captions regardless.

I did an odd thing. I accidentally put the second Don Camillo film ahead of the first one on my Netflix queue. So I saw the second one first. This is not that bad a thing, however, as the second film recapped what happened in the first film when it began. But, because I loved the second film so much, I couldn't wait to see the first.

This movie begins with the town in an uproar. It's a heavily divided town and the Communists have just won the election for mayor. The old guard is quite unhappy and the unhappiest is the town's priest, Don Camillo (Fernandel). And, through most of the film, he and the Mayor butt heads and fight like dogs. It's all quite silly but enjoyable.

An odd thing about the film, just as in the second, is that Don Camillo talks to Jesus--and Jesus talks back to him through the crucifix in the church! Some might find it a bit sacrilegious, but it seemed to be handled well. Also, the town's struggles is a good microcosm of post-war Italy, as the country was strongly divided between Communists and those who wanted a right-wing republic--a problem which didn't really get resolved until the 1980s.

All in all, a very good film that I enjoyed. However, please watch the next one--it gets even better.
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One of my all-time classics
Nick Rosier31 July 2000
This is, and has been since I was a young boy, one of my favorite movies.

It's the story of a Catholic priest and a Communist mayor who are each others worst enemy and best friend. The dialogs are just great, but what I like most about these movies (there a are 5 in total) is that both main characters (Don Camillo and Peppone) are "real people". They act on impulse, say one thing but think the other, manipulate... they are real humans. When one of Peppone's people dies and asks for the church-bells to be rang at his funeral, Don Camillo refuses because he was no Catholic. Peppone orders a big bell to be placed in the town square which Don Camillo sabotages. The bell is broken and sounds horrible but at the end, Don Camillo rings his bells because "by asking for the bells, the boy was asking for God". This is one of these typical things I like about these movies.

I've got the good fortune I also understand French and can watch these movies in that language. I can't imagine what they would sound like in English but I would advice anyone to watch them in the French version. I hate dubbed movies and can't imagine Fernandel speaking English (although in one movie he does which is hilarious). But in all, I think even the English version still is one of the best movies ever made.

If you're not prejudiced against black and white and foreign movies, this is a movie you have to see. If you are, you don't know what you're missing.
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The "simple" life
cajaroso29 March 2005
I think this is a very funny movie, Despite the fact it is a white&black film and you really can tell that it is placed on a certain time frame (end of 1940's - early 1950's), the plot is fun and universal. It gives you a glimpse of the life on a small Italian town, where simple things turns into hilarious situations, thanks to the strange relationship of friendship/rivalry between Don Camillo and Mayor Peppone. I was lucky to see the original french version (subtitled, of course) which is always better than hearing a translated version. I think that original voices -even if you do not understand the language- reveal the character's feelings, and give credibility to actor's performances. After the film, you get the impression that life is somewhat easier to cope with...
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Brilliant Comedy
Nicholas Rhodes19 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I have thoroughly enjoyed all of the films I have seen made by Julien Duvivier and this one is no exception. It concerns the rivalry between the parish priest and the communist mayor of a small village somewhere in Italy. When the priest is annoyed about something, he has a verbal go at Christ on the cross in his church and, would you believe, the voice of God actually replies - or this can be interpreted as his own conscience depending on your beliefs. I did not know that the film had been made in English and learns this on reading these boards. In fact, the logical language for the film is Italian as all the action takes place in Italy so it's a bit strange to hear them all speaking in French or English. The problem is that whilst nearly all the actors in the film are Italian, the priest, Don Camillo, is played by French actor Fernandel. I think there are five or six films in the series but numbers 1 and 2 are purported to be the best. They were issued a year or so ago on DVD in a special edition which has the original Italian version with French subtitles, or the French version with a choice of English or Spanish subtitles. There are also a lot of bonuses on the DVD which teach us a lot about Italy, Gino Cervi and Fernandel. Some of the most delicious moments in the film occur when Don Camillo is complaining to God who answers him and tries to temper his anger. Fernandel had a very expressive face and was ideally suited to this character. Indeed, long after his death, the personnage of Don Camillo has even appeared on adverts for Panzani pasta and with an actor sporting a face almost identical to that of Fernandel. It appears to me that the latter was a much loved actor in France many years ago and I do admit to finding his equine countenance most endearing. The film is therefore a minor masterpiece for all those viewers sensitive to this type of character study.
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Nice adaptation of Don Camillo stories, slightly Americanized so even we can understand
Michael Morrison19 February 2017
Having read all of Giovanni Guareschi's Don Camillo stories, several times, I was very pleased to find "The Little World of Don Camillo" on YouTube. And I was further pleased to find it rather faithful to the original work by Guareschi.

It's hard, usually, at least for me, to render a total and impartial judgment of a dubbed movie, but in my opinion the acting was superb, the casting was excellent, and the presentation of Guareschi's vision of this Po River Valley village was close enough to perfect.

I see at IMDb that more modern versions of some Don Camillo stories have been made, and I hope to see them. Eventually.

But first I want to see all the Fernandel versions. And I want to urge everyone to seek out the books and read them, either before or after seeing the movies. Especially read "Comrade Don Camillo," which is the only complete novel of the series.

I have read "Comrade Don Camillo" several times, and every time I am moved to tears at some of the scenes, and to laughter at others, and to tears by the overall tone and beauty.

Guareschi was, and might still be, the largest-selling Italian author in the world, and in my opinion deservedly. His own history is well worth reading, even in this post-Soviet Union era.
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Father Complex
writers_reign2 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
This is based on a deceptively simple best-selling novel by Giovanni Guareshi which achieved International popularity and this, initial film in an eventual five, replicated the success of the novel though over the years it has lost a little of its lustre. This isn't really the fault of director Julien Duvivier who is responsible for several 'clssic' titles in several genres from Un Carnet de bal through Pepe le Moko, Le Fin du jour, Marie Octobre to name only four; nor is it the fault of Fernandel who was almost certainly the ideal actor to portray the simple priest who thinks nothing of holding two-way conversations with God and is not averse to hand-to- hand brawling with the followers of communist mayor Peppone, the priests' rival for the affection of the small village population and with whom he enjoys a love-hate relationship. Like the novel the film is episodic and more a series of vignettes than a conventional story with a beginning, middle, and end and perhaps this is what takes the edge off what is nevertheless an enjoyable film.
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