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Escape by Night (1960)

Era notte a Roma (original title)
TV-PG | | Drama, War | 5 July 1961 (France)
Three allied prisoners, a Russian, an American and an Englishman, attempt to escape with the help of a young couple from Rome.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
British Major Michael Pemberton
Esperia Belli
Soviet Sergeant Fyodor Aleksandrovic Nazukov (as Sergej Bondartchoux)
American Lieutenant Peter Bradley
German Colonel Baron Von Kleist
Don Valerio
Doctor Costanzi
Prince Alessandro Antoniani
Renato Balducci
Erika Almagià
Giulio Calì ...
Driver of the Fake Nuns
George Petrarca ...
Carlo Reali ...
Augusto Antoniani
Leopoldo Valentini ...
Sor Alfredo, Porter


During WW2, in Rome , a trio of escaped Allied POWs find themselves in limbo as they try to avoid re-capture and reach their dispersed units. Michael Pemberton is a British Major, Fyodor Aleksandrovic Nazukov is a Soviet Sergeant and Peter Bradley is an American Lieutenant. A beautiful young Italian woman, Esperia Belli, agrees to give them shelter. She knows that despite Italy's efforts to break with Nazi Germany and join the Allies there are some Italians who are Fascist sympathizers and would gladly denounce Esperia to the German authorities. Hiding enemy soldiers or escaped POWs is punishable by death. Esperia hopes to get in contact with the Italian anti-Fascist resistance which could help the three escaped Allied POWs rejoin their respective armies. Until then, the fugitives are stuck in Esperia's attic. Written by nufs68

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Drama | War







| | |

Release Date:

5 July 1961 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Escape by Night  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs



Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


Italian censorship visa # 32106 delivered on 17-6-1960. See more »


In the attic, after about 20 minutes, the strings of a harp are briefly touched. However, the resulting sound is not from a harp, but rather from the strings of a pianoforte being strummed. See more »


Referenced in Cannibal Holocaust (1980) See more »

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User Reviews

Epic account of a small tale
21 February 2006 | by See all my reviews

Can no one have seen this important Rossellini film? Astonishing it is to be the first to comment in these "pages" on a work by one of the major directors of world cinema (and for the second time -- no one else had commented on "Vanina Vanini" either). Apparently this 145 minute film (that is how it clocked in at the showing I attended) received very little distribution, and, though it is excellent, it is not hard to see why this was so. Its story of three Allied soldiers, one English, one American, one Russian, on the loose in an as-yet-unliberated Italy, is short on wild excitement, but filled with interesting detail and human warmth. Giovanna Ralli is marvelous (and would have been a marvelous Vanina Vanini, if only...) in a complex and emotional role. Peter Baldwin and Renato Salvatori are winningly handsome young men (and are rather lookalikes), and Leo Genn and Sergei Bondarchuk provide solid acting. Rossellini's use of the zoom to make possible "intercutting without cuts" is used to great effect in this film, and the scene in which the spy/informer eavesdrops on the confessional is especially masterful. One of Rossellini's last films before he decided to devote himself exclusively to the small screen, this film is sober, serious, worthy, and, withal, not lacking in value as entertainment. Postscript: I've now had a chance two years later (December 2008) to re-view this film, thanks to a new (and very inexpensive) DVD region 1 release. My second viewing has led me to revise (upward) my evaluation of this beautiful film. Yes, it's long, and seems episodic, but, as in Chekhov's plays and (odd pairing, I know) McCarey's "The Bells of St. Mary's," on second viewing the connections between the episodes are profound and satisfying. The Lionsgate DVD (paired with a second little-known Rossellini feature, "Dov'e la liberta) is a real bargain (available for under $15). The print appears better than that on the region 2 UK disc (see screen captures at DVDBeaver.com), and, though the titles are in French (this is a Franco-Italian co-production) the title itself is given in Italian, unlike that on the UK version. Running time is 2:13.5, compared to 2:08 and change on the region 2 disc (accounted for by the PAL speedup). Subtitles are excellent and unusually thorough. My previously stated running time of 145 is confirmed by Jose Luis Guarnier within the text of his Praeger Film Library monograph from 1970 (though his filmography gives 120 minutes!) There is a strange mis-match in the editing in the first attic scene, which may indicate some foul play. I can't recall any specific missing scene, though. Details aside, this really is a great film.

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