Rod Steiger once again showed his ability to play roles of political and historical men. In the past he was Al Capone, Napoleon, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, Pontius Pilate, and Mussolini twice (also in "Lion of the Desert" ,1980). At his last minutes he was a kind of Mussolini humble, lost, not knowing what to do once he was arrested. Very good acting also from Henry Fonda playing the role of Milanese Cardinal Schuster, he worries more about Mussolini's fate than of those innocents who may have died during those days. The film showed well how Germans wanted to keep Mussolini and the efforts of the Americans to capture him. The director Lizzani did an excellent work trying to show these last hours of the dictator and his lover, Claretta Petacci (Lisa Gastoni). Very interesting dialogues were shown between the guerrilla fighters and Mussolini. He claimed that only Germans guilty of the war, and that he had very little responsibility on what happened, but the fighters refused all his coward arguments with real facts. Mussolini destroyed Italian democracy, eliminated political parties and unions, and also killed many innocent people. He supported well Hitler although he was a puppet in the hands of the Germans. I do not know whether Mussolini was killed together with his lover in a way it is shown in the film. What is known is that he tried to cross the border disguised as a German soldier in a convoy of trucks retreating toward Innsbruck, Austria. He was recognized and together with Claretta shot in an area closed to Como. Until here the plot must be accepted, but I wonder why Lizzani did not want to show further this history, i.e. that the bodies were hung, head downward, in the Milanese Piazza Loreto in Milan.
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