(Some spoilers) "Penne Nere" ("Black Feathers") is set in Italy during the last crucial two years of World War II, after the Badoglio government had signed an armistice with the allies. Throughout the nation the original Fascist army was disbanded and soldiers were pretty much on their own. Most tried to find their way back home and hope for the best, although with much of the nation now occupied by the Germans, the situation would be precarious.
Our hero, Pieri, is a young Alpine soldier (they wear black feathers in their caps.) He is from the village of Stella, where much of the story unfolds, and is in love with Gemma (Marina Vlady.) Having made their way back to their village over the Alpine snows after the news of the army disbandment, the soldiers, with the townspeople, become engaged in an effort to prevent the Germans from blowing up a dam.
At the end of the war, the two lovers are able to marry and we see the arrival of their first child. The movie is splendidly photographed and some of the shots of the Alps and the snows and the village environs are terrific. Marcello Mastroianni , appearing quite young here, cuts a handsome figure. His voice is dubbed, however, by someone else, always a common practice in Italy. Marina Vlady as his girl is very pretty and suitable to the part. Guido Celano plays Olinto, Pieri's brother who is killed in a German ambush. Young Enzo Staiola, famous as the boy in De Sica's "The Bicycle Thief" plays Olinto's son Tonino who smiles a lot and is given a substantial amount of screen time. The direction is by Oreste Biancoli, better known as a screenwriter.
Although the film does not have any reputation as a major work, it is still a very interesting one and does not disappoint at all.
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