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The Great War (1959) More at IMDbPro »La grande guerra (original title)


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Down 4% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Agenore Incrocci (story) &
Furio Scarpelli (story) ...
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Release Date:
28 October 1959 (Italy) See more »
The Great War is hell at its at their mightiest...the screen at its greatest!
The Italian Army fought against the Austrians during World War I. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Nominated for Oscar. Another 6 wins & 8 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
THE GREAT WAR (Mario Monicelli, 1959) ***1/2 See more (13 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Alberto Sordi ... Oreste Jacovacci

Vittorio Gassman ... Giovanni Busacca

Silvana Mangano ... Costantina
Folco Lulli ... Bordin

Bernard Blier ... Capitano Castelli
Romolo Valli ... Tenente Gallina
Vittorio Sanipoli ... Maggiore Venturi
Nicola Arigliano ... Giardino
Geronimo Meynier ... Il portaordini
Mario Valdemarin ... Sottotenente Lorenzi
Elsa Vazzoler ... Moglie di Boradin
Tiberio Murgia ... Rosario Nicotra
Livio Lorenzon ... Sergente Barriferri
Ferruccio Amendola ... De Concini
Carlo D'Angelo ... Capitano Ferri
Achille Compagnoni ... Il cappellano
Luigi Fainelli ... Giacomazzi
Marcello Giorda ... Generale
Tiberio Mitri ... Mandich
Gérard Herter ... Capitano austriaco
Guido Celano ... Italian major
Mario Feliciani
Mario Mazza
Mario Colli
Gianni Baghino
Mario Frera
Gian Luigi Polidoro
Leandro Punturi ... Il bambino
Edda Ferronao

Directed by
Mario Monicelli 
Writing credits
Agenore Incrocci (story and screenplay) (as Age) &
Furio Scarpelli (story and screenplay) (as Scarpelli) and
Luciano Vincenzoni (story and screenplay) and
Mario Monicelli (story and screenplay)

Agenore Incrocci (dialogue) (as Age) &
Furio Scarpelli (dialogue) (as Scarpelli)

Produced by
Dino De Laurentiis .... producer
Original Music by
Nino Rota 
Cinematography by
Roberto Gerardi 
Giuseppe Rotunno 
Leonida Barboni (uncredited)
Giuseppe Serrandi (uncredited)
Film Editing by
Adriana Novelli 
Production Design by
Mario Garbuglia 
Costume Design by
Danilo Donati 
Piero Gherardi (Silvana Mangano's costumes)
Makeup Department
Rino Carboni .... makeup artist
Romolo de Martino .... makeup artist
Production Management
Giorgio Adriani .... production leader
Alfredo De Laurentiis .... production leader
Luigi De Laurentiis .... general organization
Giorgio Morra .... production supervisor
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Giovanni Fago .... assistant director
Maurizio Lucci .... assistant director
Mario Maffei .... director help
Art Department
Aldo Puccini .... construction manager
Sound Department
Rocco Roy Mangano .... sound (as Roy Mangano)
Bruno Moreal .... sound
Special Effects by
Urbisaglia Gatti .... special effects
Camera and Electrical Department
Silvano Ippoliti .... camera operator
Goffredo Bellisario .... camera operator (uncredited)
Music Department
Franco Ferrara .... musical director
Other crew
Silvana Mangini Colizzi .... continuity (as Mangini Silvana)
Carlo Salsa .... consultant
Ferruccio Amendola .... voice dubbing: Gérard Herter (uncredited)
Mario Colli .... voice dubbing: Achille Compagnoni (uncredited)
Riccardo Cucciolla .... voice dubbing: Nicola Arigliano (uncredited)
Nino Del Fabbro .... voice dubbing: Bernard Blier (uncredited)
Turi Ferro .... voice dubbing: Tiberio Murgia (uncredited)

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"La grande guerra" - Italy (original title)
See more »
137 min
Aspect Ratio:
2.35 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

Movie Connections:
Referenced in Il falso bugiardo (2008)See more »


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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful.
THE GREAT WAR (Mario Monicelli, 1959) ***1/2, 25 February 2014
Author: MARIO GAUCI ( from Naxxar, Malta

When I attended the 61st Venice Film Festival in September 2004, I saw Italian veteran film-maker Mario Monicelli several times taking a stroll by himself but, given his reputation for cantankerousness and irascibility, I thought better not to bother him; you can imagine how guilty I felt when the 95-year old frail director committed suicide by jumping out of a Roman hospital window in November 2010! Monicelli, who does not get a single mention in the "Wonders In The Dark" 3000-strong list(!), belongs with other notable Italian film directors like Pietro Germi, Elio Petri, Dino Risi, and Ettore Scola whose work had long been unjustly overshadowed by the big five, namely Antonioni, De Sica, Fellini, Rossellini and Visconti.

Best-known for his classic, star-studded caper spoof BIG DEAL ON MADONNA STREET aka PERSONS UNKNOWN (1958) – a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar contender that is still my favourite among his films and, possibly, my favourite comedy not in the English language, period! – but THE GREAT WAR (that was equally recognized by the Academy) is probably his masterpiece. Winner of the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival – tied with Roberto Rossellini's WWII drama IL GENERALE DELLA ROVERE starring Vittorio De Sica both here – over such superior titles as Otto Preminger's ANATOMY OF A MURDER, Kon Ichikawa's CONFLAGRATION and Ingmar Bergman's THE MAGICIAN (both 1958) – and at the David di Donatello awards, Italy's own equivalent of the Oscar, it is still underrated enough to have been given a baffling ** rating by "Leonard Maltin's Film Guide" – where, incidentally, its running time is given as 118 minutes, rather than the full 137 minutes – and the non-English-friendly Italian 2-Disc Set (which, after missing out on it a couple of times on TV over the years, is how I eventually watched it on the centenary of WWI, no less…albeit jettisoning the supplements altogether due to time constraints) is still its only home video release worldwide. The film's constant veering between drama and comedy requires some initial adjustment from the viewer but it eventually reaches an exquisite seamlessness. Leading man Vittorio Gassman had been renowned for drama up to his revelation as a comic actor in the aforementioned BIG DEAL ON MADONNA STREET; conversely, his sparring partner here Alberto Sordi was popular for his own comedy vehicles prior to this; indeed, Sordi would again go to war in two notable subsequent films: Luigi Comencini's similarly bittersweet EVERYBODY GO HOME! (1960) and the more typically comic THE BEST OF ENEMIES (1961; co-starring David Niven). THE GREAT WAR is an impressive Dino De Laurentiis production, notable for distinguished cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno's sinewy tracking shots along the trenches and Mario Garbuglia's award-winning expansive sets. The film also offers a showy role for De Laurentiis's actress wife Silvana Mangano as the proverbial whore with a heart of gold who possibly bears Gassman's child; interestingly, this is just one of several Gassman-Mangano teamings that included the star-making BITTER RICE (1949) and the epics TEMPEST (1958) and BARABBAS (1961). To portray the colourful supporting characters that make up the irrepressible duo's comrades-in-arms, an excellent cast of familiar character actors was dutifully enrolled: Bernard Blier, Romolo Valli, Folco Lulli, Livio Lorenzon, Tiberio Murgia (returning from BIG DEAL ON MADONNA STREET), Ferruccio Amendola and Gerard Herter.

Considering its significant length, it is understandable that the film follows an episodic structure but is decidedly replete with memorable vignettes: new enlistee Gassman bribing 'veteran' Sordi to avoid joining the Army in the opening scene; Gassman and Murgia's punishment for waking up late in the barracks is to have their hair completely shaved off; Gassman and Sordi asking their chaplain the way to the local brothel and he points them to Mangano's modest but highly popular dwelling; Amendola being constantly hit by the barracks' door whenever it is opened to herald a newly-arrived army bigwig on a morale-boosting tour of the trenches; cultured Valli being pestered by an illiterate private to write love letters to his beloved and read his mail and eventually having to lie to him when the local priest replies that she has married a rich old man; a messenger is killed when delivering a note from HQ that only wished a Happy Christmas to the troops (which causes the much-loved and usually well-behaved Lulli to throw a cup of brandy in his overzealous young superior' face); Murgia is constantly waxing about his love for famous actress Francesca Bertini but, when he does actually receive word from her, he tears up the letter after yet another casualty-ridden assault on their trenches; Gassman and Sordi giving their money, collected for an intended visit to a whorehouse, to Lulli's as-yet-unaware widow whom they chance to meet at the train station – subsequently joining a band of soldiers partying there amongst themselves with a minimum of girls to go around; Gassman and Sordi are continually volunteering for missions to shirk trench duties and often save their lives in the process: this stretch of good luck catches up with them at the end when the remote outpost they have ventured to is unknowingly abandoned by their army and they find it occupied by the Austrian enemy when they wake up the following morning; this leads to their heroic death when they refuse to divulge attack plans to Herter, followed by the film's sublimely ironic closing sequence where their long-suffering sergeant Lorenzon complains that these two ne'er-do-wells have once again managed to have it the easy way, cutting to an image of their lifeless bodies, and back again!

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