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Massacre in Rome (1973)
"Rappresaglia" (original title)

PG  |   |  Drama, History, War  |  24 October 1973 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 793 users  
Reviews: 17 user | 6 critic

In the Nazi occupied city of Rome, an assault on an SS brigade draws retaliation from the military governship. "Massacre in Rome" is the true story of how this partisan attack led to the ... See full summary »


(as George Pan Cosmatos)


, (as George Pan Cosmatos) , 3 more credits »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Father Pietro Antonelli
Gen. Kurt Maelzer
John Steiner ...
Col. Dollmann
Anthony Steel ...
Maj. Domizlaf
Robert Harris ...
Father Pancrazio
Gen. Albert Kesselring
Renzo Montagnani ...
Questore Pietro Caruso
Giancarlo Prete ...
Renzo Palmer ...
Duilio Del Prete ...
Dennis Burgess
Guidarino Guidi ...
Guido Buffarini-Guidi
Douglas Hare ...
Young German Soldier


In the Nazi occupied city of Rome, an assault on an SS brigade draws retaliation from the military governship. "Massacre in Rome" is the true story of how this partisan attack led to the mass execution of Italian nationals under the orders of SS-Lieutenant Colonel Kappler. Written by Anthony Hughes <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | History | War


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:







Release Date:

24 October 1973 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Massacre in Rome  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


Filmed early in 1973, the film had a limited release in 1975. See more »


The film portrays General Kurt Mälzer as an impulsive and hardcore Nazi while Herbert Kappler is depicted as a tired worn out man who believes that the fall of Nazi Germany is imminent. In reality, Kappler was a zealous Nazi responsible for hundreds of round-ups, executions, and reprisals while it was Mälzer who was a reserved officer, cautious about implementing harsh policies. See more »


Father Pietro Antonelli: I would prefer a world that didn't need protecting.
Lieutenant Colonel Herbert Kappler: And I would prefer a religion that didn't need priests.
See more »


Referenced in The Scarlet and the Black (1983) See more »

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User Reviews

Echoes of Lidice
9 June 2007 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

After sticking it out to the grim & dreadful closing 15 minutes of this co-Italian production, I felt the need for a stiff brandy. Not knowing anything of the film nor of the incident that led to the final atrocity I was kept riveted after the first half hour since the often chequered and frustrated direction of the account often leaves the conclusion in doubt and one hoping the worst will be thwarted at the last moment.When 32 of a company of marching German soldiers are wiped out by a small bunch of Italian underground in a wet deserted street which results in a furious local Commandant(McKern) demanding immediate and exaggerated retaliation but is reminded by his subordinate(R Burton) that with the Americans beating at the city gates, he lacked the proper authority,it being more politically prudent to "go through channels". Burton has a tenuous understanding with a local priest Fr Antonelli(Mastroianni)who represents the large Christian population & the Vatican who gets personally involved in a struggle to cool what becomes a strategic battle between the various ranking officials who refuse permission or don't wish to know, his pleading & reasoning with Burton as one born to obey orders and caught in the middle of a thankless and unwanted military situation is ordered to compile a reduced list of hostages and then arrange the execution squad. It is a matter of history that Pope Pius,ruler of the Vatican & representative of everything Catholicism stood for, if not a collaborator with the Nazis was at least partisan, so Fr Antonelli finding the hostage situation finally becoming a growing reality desperately seeks his intervention to prevent the accelerating executions only to be met with a polite & devious refusal. There are a few moments of amusement in watching the growing frustrating of McKern repeatedly defeated by ranking responses to his demands but the suspense is held until the point where Burton rigid to his code, rebukes the inevitable damnation of his soul in openly defying Fr Antonelli & as a man out on his own stonefacedly proceeds with his "final solution" without official knowledge of the civil authority. How the final contrived business is planned with the utmost secrecy and perpetrated even to the extent of destroying all evidence of the atrocity and the grim,details of every last moment takes a pretty strong stomach.....the notorious sequence from Kubrick's "Paths of Glory" springs to mind. One final nasty shock remains for Burton who has promised the priest he will fire the first shot. The whole "business", like Lidice is historical truth... Hitler clearly saw the assassination of one high ranking official significant enough to wipe out an entire village & its population- the significance here was a mere 30 odd footsloggers of minor importance. One point did bother me about why these officials really cared about protocol and did not simply go out & seize the first unwitting hostages they found and not stand on ceremony about details. But this is a true story we are told.

A few old faces like Anthony Steel & Peter Vaughan pop up briefly whilst the acting is generally quite acceptable with Burton almost as stone faced and cold as in "Villain" . What was his reason for taking so unsympathetic a part? Nevertheless, as one reviewer has remarked it has the look of a cheap production and a good deal is shot in semi-darkness. Definitely not for children under 14!

The crumbs of comfort come with the closing credits when we are audibly reminded of the War Trials' sentences of death or imprisonment for these men, Only Kesselring got off lightly as the top authority to issue the proper orders. Fr Antonelli finally demonstrated the bravery of Sidney Carton in his horror of this massacre in Rome.

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