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Although this movie is not as well known as most of Luigi Comencini's other films, I believe it to be one of his best. It deals with the love of a young boy, Mario, for his surrogate father, Righetto, who along with the boy's mother Ada, takes care of the child while the husband Aldo is separated from his wife and son as he works in Africa for long stretches of time and barely ever sees his family.
After the mother dies in a street accident, Aldo returns to Rome where his family lives, but only with the intention of putting the boy in an orphanage so that he can return to his job. Mario is indifferent to this father that he barely knows, but is deeply devoted to the affectionate and caring Righetto. Righetto works at odd jobs and has not had much in the way of financial stability, and yet the boy wants to become like him when he grows up. He does poorly in school.
A rivalry develops between real father and de-facto father Righetto. The boy runs away to be with Righetto, until the father retrieves him. Righetto is a kind and meek man and very patient with the boy but also honest is confronting the boy's father about his relationship in the past with Ada when Aldo hints they were lovers. Always the gentleman, in fact nearly a saint, Righetto reassures the man that nothing had ever taken place, except his genuine affection for the boy.
Righetto urges the father to remain, fulfill his parental duties, get to know his son, and not abandon him. By the end of the film, in a reversal, it is Righetto who goes off to work on a farm, and it is Aldo who, at Righetto's urging, will remain. Righetto has a last meeting with the boy at the nearby amusement park of the film's title and urges the lad to walk toward his dad, which he does. In the last few moments of the movie we see the father carrying the boy on his back to a carnival ride, which they will go on together, though he claims "fear" and though the boy doubts it. It is the birth of a new relationship, a boy with his true father, finally capable of the love he needs to give his son. And it is heartfelt and really a moving episode.
The movie is beautifully acted by Gastone Renzelli as Aldo, a magnificent Pierre Trabaud as Righetto, Giulia Rubini as Ada (mostly in flashbacks)and wonderful trouper Giancarlo Damiani as the sensitive eight-year-old Mario. Luigi Comencini has given us many films dealing with the lives of children. Some of the ones that come to mind are his "Proibito rubare," "Voltati Eugenio," "Cuore," "Incompreso," "Un ragazzo di Calabria," even "Pinocchio." My own personal favorite is this one, "The Window Overlooking Luna Park."
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