Ercole Pappalardo (Totò), married, five sons, lives with only dream to be upgraded from his current position in the post department. Everithing goes wrong, he accidentally spits on the ... See full summary »
Ercole Pappalardo (Totò), married, five sons, lives with only dream to be upgraded from his current position in the post department. Everithing goes wrong, he accidentally spits on the minister's face, he insults him trough a parrot (!), and finally they discover he has no titles to fit his current position. After all this tragicomic events he takes a definitive decision: he will die to communicate from the afterlife the lotto numbers to his wife! Written by
Totò e i re di Roma is not a perfect movie: certain scenes in the first part feel overlong and useless; not all the humour is equally amusing; and yet, overall, it works surprisingly well. The wonderful Italian actor Totò stars as Ettore Pappalardo, a poor worker with a huge family to maintain; when it is discovered that he hasn't even passed the first grade, he is forced to study to face the final exam. Things don't go as planned, so he decides to recur to an extreme solution: he will shoot himself to give, from the afterlife, the right numbers of the "lotto" to his wife.
This is a comedy, but there are also some bitter undertones: some developments are inspired by a short tale by Cechov, and there is even a scene that seems to come straight from Pirandello. It's marvellous to see how Totò is able to switch from slapstick to serious, even tragic moments. In the supporting cast, the most notable presence is a young Alberto Sordi, who gives an hilarious performance as an unbearably obnoxious professor. Reportedly, Totò himself was impressed by the young colleague.
The ironically surreal ending with the bureaucratic afterlife is amusing, and it is also a biting satire.
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