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The railroad engineer Andrea Marcocci has been working with his partner and friend Gigi Liverani for thirty years and feels happy and proud with his work, drinking wine after hours with his friends in a bar owned by the former railroad man Ugo. Andrea is married with Sara and his young son Sandro is very close to him; however Andrea has issues with his unemployed son Marcello and with his pregnant daughter Giulia, whose boy-friend Renato Borghi was forced to marry her. When a suicidal crosses the tracks of his train in a curve, Andrea feels deeply affected by the accident and almost collides with another train. The railroad company investigates the accident and steps Andrea down from his position. The domestic life of Andrea is also affected by his aggressive behavior and Marcello and Giulia leave home. Later Andrea also leaves home and starts to drink until the day Sandro visits his father in a bar. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Il Ferroviere is the story of train engineer Andrea Marcocci and his family in good times and bad seen mostly through the eyes of his youngest son. Marcocci is a lover of wine and song but he is also an obstinate proud man, his own worst enemy as he manages to alienate family and co-workers in post war strike prone Italy. The film opens with him in high spirits but he is soon beset by problems which include an unmarried pregnant daughter, a deadbeat older son, a work accident that ruins his career, performing scab labor and a drinking problem.
Il Ferroviere is a rather mawkish melodrama with weak neorealist roots. The child's viewpoint and the father's shame echoes The Bicycle Thief but with less of a sense of desperation. Italy is a decade out of the war and well on the road to recovery. The problem is the bellicose sometimes brutal Andrea who brooks no descent or criticism.
Looking and acting like Kirk Douglas Director Pietro Germi casts himself as Andrea. He is all bombast and not very effective at modulating his moods. He's all rage and melancholy. It is left up to his forever suffering wife to bring out the good in him. Sure he's beat her but he works hard for his family she reasons. In Patriarchal 1956 Italy this is acceptable behavior and to drive that point home we have a scene where Andrea pummels his pregnant daughter while neighbors listen but do not intervene.
I find it ironic that director Germi who brilliantly eviscerated Italy's antiquated marriage laws with the classic comedy-satire Divorce Italian Style (61) condones Andrea's family battering by making him an overall sympathetic character. He is quick to be forgiven but his pride won't allow him to be as fast.
As a timepiece Il Ferroviere provides some disquieting insights with it's sentimental chauvinism but overall it's little more than a heated family drama with an operatic tone that sounds off key most of the time.
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