A story of a brilliant master sergeant with a great career behind him and transferred to yet another post, his attraction to a younger man eventually overrides him, to a point where his latent homosexuality, finally emerges.
John Phillip Law,
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More than anything this resembles a spaghetti western updated to a different, more modern, period setting. In as much as it follows the picaresque adventures of three bickering travelling companions in a search for treasure against a background of war it is strikingly similar to parts of THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY. In addition it has a typically Italian soundtrack from Ennio Morricone and uses breathtaking landscapes to good effect. Unlike that film, however, this has no clear sense of what it is or even what it would like to be. There are elements of the war film, there are certainly moments of broad comedy, a dash of romance, and, towards the end a touch of tragedy. While none of these go to make it a coherent narrative, and there is precious little plot to speak of, they combine to form a diverting film which goes nowhere in particular. It also put me in mind of Argento's LE CINQUE GIORNATE although the attempts at social commentary in Festa's effort are slighter. He deals well with the struggle of peasant people and indeed soldiers to find food during wartime, a theme which runs throughout the movie. To his credit Festa does manage to extract a less-mannered than usual performance out of Steiger. This was the first film of Lisi's that I had seen and while she makes an impression as the feisty Ada I couldn't say that she was in the same league as Claudia Cardinale. Umberto Orsini is okay as the soldier but perhaps overplays the 'stupid but loveable' angle. Perhaps the best moments involve a lazy donkey, including some great scenes where Lisi tries to get it to drag the other two along in a giant barrell!
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