|Index||9 reviews in total|
I finally had the privilege of seeing THE LAST 4 DAYS a few months ago,
I was blown away by how amazingly well done it was. The film stars the
Rod Steiger as Benito Mussolini, who faces his last 4 days of life. The
features great Ennio Morricone music, superb direction and great
performances all-around by an allstar cast.
Rod Steiger is INCREDIBLE as Mussolini. He faces his last days on earth having to make several major decisions as his life and nation fall apart around him. I can't describe his performance; it's just powerful and incredibly believable. Franco Nero is great, too, as an Italian partisan officer who is assigned to kill Mussolini. Lisa Gastoni is excellent as Mussolini's wife, who like any loyal wife, wants to be with her husband through the thick and thin. Henry Fonda is very good in a small role as Cardinal Schuster, who tries to help Mussolini but ultimately fails. Watch also for: Giuseppe Addobbati, Andrea Aureli, Bruno Corazzari, Marco Guglielmi, Tom Felleghy, Luciano Pigozzi, John Stacy and finally Giacomo Rossi-Stuart as an American officer assigned to apprehend Mussolini.
The direction is tight and spectacular. Carlo Lizzani brings every aspect to the movie to life. The paranoia and confusion of Italy falling apart to stunning life. There is not a wasted frame in this movie, and the pace is set perfectly. The editing is also very good, -- especially in the scenes where Mussolini is jumping from flashback to current time -- are shocking realistic. Ennio Morricone's score is haunting and really penetrates you.
I saw this movie as a copy of a copy of the Lightning Video. The print is relatively clear, especially for a 3rd generation copy, and I don't believe anything has been removed. If there is any missing footage, it doesn't show in the editing. The credits are letterboxed about 1.85:1. See an original video; don't be lazy like me and settle for somebody else's dub. The visual quality is essential to the theme of the movie.
An amazing drama of a leader that not many people know much about. The film gives a true insight into the last days of his life, and we see him as more of a man than as a diabolical Fascist leader. For being so professional and stunning in every way, I give it a 10 out of 10.
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.
The movie tells the story of "Il Duce´s" or Benito Mussolini´s last days. Abandoned by his black shirts and supporters, Mussolini is haunted by the Partisans, Allies, and even the Germans (who want bring him to Germany) Due to the great performance of Rod Steiger (Mussolini) and interesting plot + good music this is the best Italian movie I have seen.
This is a great movie showing what a histrionic character and opportunist Mussolini was, double crossing until the end between the Italians, the Germans and the British, worried only about himself and not caring about the devastation he brought in his country and trying to escape to Switzerland where to live a comfortable life. Well depicted also his emotional life with her lover Petacci - which probably he exploited to the end for her devotion and total love. I was sorry that the story of the documents he was carrying with him, with all the letters exchanged with Churchill - and that would compromise Churchill if brought to the public - was totally ignored - probably too delicate a topic to be dealt with in this kind of commercial movies.
It is interesting that Rod Steiger has attempted two ambitious epic-roles
his career - Napoleon in Waterloo, and now Mussolini in Ultimo Atto - both
European co-productions outside the normal auspices of Hollywood. Although
it may be decidedly the minor of the two, the subject matter of the film
still captivates the viewer as it chronicles the last few days of the
Mussolini: Ultimo Atto portrays the demise of Italy's one-time Dictator from a leader of emperor-like proportions to that of a desperate fugitive. Mussolini is hunted by four separate groups each with different ideas of his fate. Hitler wants him to fight until his final breath, the Allies and the new Italian government want him to stand trial for war crimes, and the Italian partisans want to shoot him on site.
Rod Steiger plays Mussolini credibly (from what I know of him) and Henry Fonda is also notable in his role as a Cardinal.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A very well made, personal epic about the last days of the Italian fascist dictator. Rod Steiger is very commanding in the title role, sweating out his final hours while he tries to outrun both the partisans and Allied troops, and getting little help from either the Germans or his hopelessly dedicated mistress Clara Petacci. Director Carlo Lizzani wastes little time and moves the film along at a brisk clip. The film has an epic feel to it while capturing the utter desperation Mussolini feels. Steiger is excellent and Lisa Gastoni is terrific as Pettaci. A number of Italian character actors, including Lino Capolicchio and Giacome Rossi Stuart appear in supporting roles. The film also features Franco Nero as as the dictator's soon to be executioner and, in a brief role as a duplicitous Cardinal, Henry Fonda. Another great music score by Ennio Morricone (one of his most despairing).
The story of the last tragic days of Benito Mussolini is not well known, even by readers and students of history and specifically World War 2. The end for Il Duce came swift and dramatically. It was a fine line of circumstances that could have either seen him escape to Switzerland or return to Germany to join Adolf Hitler in his last days. The fact of what happened to Mussolini is sad, tragic, a terrible end for a man that was the galvanizing force for the rebirth and revitalization of a new and reformed Italy when Il Duce took power in 1922. For Adolf Hitler it was Mussolini who had always been a role model and an icon of the new philosophy of National Socialism. What happened to Benito Mussolini is a disgrace for such a great and visionary man that only wanted the best for the Italian people. Rod Steiger is superb as always as Il Duce. He reprized his role 6 years later in 'Lion of the Desert' 1980 when he played the visionary leader once more. Excellent film by Lizzani a master Director and sad to hear of his death just 3 months ago. Magnificent film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The film, like the almost contemporaneous Hitler: The Last 10 Days,
follows the final hours of one of the leaders of the axis powers during
WW2, in this case Benito Mussolini. Rod Steiger plays Il Duce (a role
he was later to repeat in Lion of the Desert) and the bulk of the film
concentrates on the former dictator coming to terms with the fact that
his freedom is gone and his life may soon be as well. It is a
compelling performance, as Mussolini begins defiant as the Germans
demand to keep him under close guard (on the express orders of the
Führer), attempts to wheedle deals with the Church and the Swiss to
ensure an escape to neutral territory then falls into a sullen sulk as
he is made a prisoner of the Italian partisans, realising that he is
probably going to be executed. By the time he is put up against a wall
with a gun pointed in his direction, he is almost catatonic.
This delineation of Mussolini's fall from power gives the film an authentically tragic aspect. It is as if the first 4 acts of Macbeth were cut and the final movement, with Birnam Woods closing in on the trapped usurper, were to constitute the entire drama. There is a wannabe Nietzschean aspect to Il Duce, a man who it is emphasised in the film looked on himself and was looked on by others as a God, although the slumped wreck we see being executed at the end is quite without divinity. The film strongly posits that Mussolini lost his self entirely when he lost power, an idea given vivid visual expression when he is wrapped in a head-bandage whilst being transported, the god-Emperor being reduced to the Invisible Man. The film portrays the dictator as a morally dubious but not utterly condemnable character although he sheds no tears nor has any feeling for the ruin he has brought on his nation, he is a man constantly let down by those he trust, whether it be his protégé Hitler who invaded Russia against Benito's advice or his own black-shirts, who fail to provide the promised cavalry to rescue him.
Two other important character studies are intriguing. Mussolini's mistress, Claretta Petacci, is portrayed as the ultimate in servile love, even sacrificing herself at the end in a vain attempt to save the man to whom she has uncritically (if jealously) devoted her life. In the final third of the film, the partisan leader Walter Audisio 'Valerio' becomes a focus of attention, driven onwards with a single-minded mission to ensure that Mussolini is executed in the name of the Italian people rather than becoming a trophy prisoner of either the Americans or the British. That Valerio is a rather inhuman, cold figure adds a certain odd ambiguity to the film, as only on an ideological level could we sympathise with this man against the Mussolini that we see through Steiger's performance. I am not sure whether to call this ambiguity daring or dangerous. The mistress and nemesis of the dictator are played respectively, and excellently, by Lisa Gastoni and Franco Nero. Henry Fonda has an intriguing cameo as a rather reptilian Cardinal, whose sympathies and opinions are impossible to gauge.
The film begins at a stonking pace, cutting quickly through events and setting out the story admirably. The pace evens a little the tension mounts and the relationship between the dictators and his mistress gets explored with some depth and the negotiations as to what will happen to him get murkier.
On the whole this is a rather remarkable film, deserving of being much better known. It is a decent history lesson but, far more, a brilliant character study and chilling portrait of what happens when a human being overreaches himself and is brought down to nothing and death.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The story of the last four days in the life of Benito Mussolini during
the close of the Second World War. Rod Stieger gives an often
restrained performance as Il Duce. Henry Fonda is a Cardinal trying to
bring an end to the madness of the war. Franco Nero is a partisan
hunting the deposed leader. From what I could tell of the film from the
print included in the BCI Maximum Action set this would be a good drama
had I seen the complete film. I mention this because the print I say
ran under 75 minutes while the running time at IMDb lists it as having
two different versions running 105 or 120, meaning that I did not see
30 to 45 minutes of the film. The result of this choppiness is that a
scene that is a meeting between Steiger and Fonda, who are the only two
people in the room, suddenly are joined by 7 or 8 other people when
they miraculously appear in seats around the table in the course of one
shot to the next.Its a surreal moment. I liked what I saw, but There
seemed to be so much cut out that I can't be sure that any problems I
had was due to the film or the print. Worth trying for those interested
in war time dramas assuming you can get a full version.
(Rating of 7 out of 10 is based on the assumption that all problems I had with the film were do to a choppy print)
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