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The Overcoat (1952)

Il cappotto (original title)
Approved | | Comedy, Drama, Fantasy | 7 October 1953 (USA)
Based on Nikolai Gogol's story with the location changed from Russia to Italy and the time changed to the present (1952), the story is about a poor city-hall clerk (Renato Rascel) whose ... See full summary »



(adaptation), (adaptation) | 5 more credits »
2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Renato Rascel ...
Carmine De Carmine
Yvonne Sanson ...
Giulio Stival ...
Il sindaco
Ettore Mattia ...
Il segretario generale
Giulio Calì ...
Il sarto
Olinto Cristina
Anna Carena ...
L'affittacamere (as Anna Maria Carena)
Sandro Somarè ...
Il fidanzato di Vittoria
Luigi Moneta
Silvio Bagolini ...
Il venditore ambulante
Dina Perbellini
Loris Gizzi
Mario Crippa
Alfredo Ragusa
Nino Marchetti ...
(as Nino Marchetti)


Based on Nikolai Gogol's story with the location changed from Russia to Italy and the time changed to the present (1952), the story is about a poor city-hall clerk (Renato Rascel) whose only desire is for a new overcoat. The town Mayor (Giulio Stival) is planning a reception for some visiting VIP's in honor of a new, wasteful piece of construction. The clerk bungles his assignment and is fired. But he stumbles onto some bribery concerning the architects and, to keep him quiet, he's given his job back plus a bonus. He buys his long-cherished overcoat, and it makes him so presentable he wins newly-found respect from everybody. But his coat is stolen and the bitter weather causes him to contact a fever and he dies. His funeral upsets the Mayor's reception when he returns as a ghost. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

overcoat | mayor | ghost | poor | city hall | See All (50) »


Gogol's Warm and Witty Masterpiece See more »


Comedy | Drama | Fantasy


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

7 October 1953 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Overcoat  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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User Reviews

The Overcoat
23 August 2006 | by (Polotrov, Russia) – See all my reviews

More than a hint of Charlie Chaplin in some of his memorable old roles wherein he conveyed a poignant notion of the ludicrous troubles of the little man is given by Renato Rascel in the Italian film, "The Overcoat".

This wistful picture treats a grim and saddening theme, even though it is done in a superior serio-comic style. It's a wonder the moths haven't got it. And that it doesn't deserve.

For this interesting Italian transposition of Gogol's semifarcical tale of the little man who was briefly elevated to a sense of importance by the possession of a new overcoat is, in many respects, an exciting and impressive piece of cinematic art, directed by Alberto Lattuada with uncompromising insight and skill.

How much of the film's insinuation derives from the sharp, sarcastic script of a corps of Italian screen-writers, how much from Rascel's apparent skill and how much from Lattuada's shrewd direction is a matter of minor concern. The fact that it is a brilliant picture, in its own special frame, is enough.

To be sure, the dramatic situation is both simple and of dubious appeal. A little clerk, tired of being pushed and badgered, puts his savings in a new overcoat. In it, he feels triumphant. He can walk down the street like a lord. He is confident with beautiful women, whom he previously yearned for from afar. Then his overcoat is stolen. Inevitably, he goes mad and dies. Briefly, his spirit haunts the people who had been cruel and haughty to him.

That is the situation. But the peculiar attractiveness of the film is in the sharpness with which it satirizes politicians and, indeed, society, and in the incisive humor of Rascel's Chaplinesque pantomime. There are scenes of magnificent humor, such as one in which the piteous little clerk reads back, with eloquence and gestures, some garbled dictation he has taken from his boss. Or the scene in which a grotesque tailor, played by Giulio Cali, fits him for the new overcoat. There also are scenes of scorching pathos and painful mockery. The sum total of them, as in a Chaplin picture, makes a haunting commentary.

Though artfully played and directed and well-furnished with English subtitles, the picture does have some limitations, so far as a wide American audience is concerned. It dwells at great length on the behavior of Italian bureaucrats, which is a little flossy for American fancy, and it is solemnly dreary toward the end. Plainly, it falls somewhere vaguely between "City Lights" and Murnau's "The Last Laugh." It is a picture more than well worth seeing. But be sure you are in the mood.

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