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War carries off everything: your hopes, your dreams, and you forget who really are. So, in a wiped out Italy during the second W. W., an artist is compelled to quit his stage and accomplish the military service. A spectacular movie, in which Renato Pozzetto interchanges sheer funniness and very serious moments. Attached to the values of friendship and love for freedom, the main character will search to live this experience with composure despite the daily tragedies, waiting for the ending of the war. This the message: never lose heart, because everything can change if you believe it and neither the fear for death nor the disbelief can hinder you to smile in front of troubles: just a hope, and you can bear trials.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Renato Pozzetto is Barbisettie, an Italian Vaudeville comedian during
The Great War, and as such performs a selection of actual war time
ditties during the course of the movie. He keeps crossing paths with
Aldo Maccione and Laura Antonelli, who play two no good swindlers named
Tono and Mariana. Both men desperately try to keep themselves out of
the war, yet Barbisettie longs to perform for the boys and Tono knows
the war is the only place he can make any kind of profit. This film is
much more serious than Renato and Aldo's usual work, and as noted
above, should certainly not be compared to Renato's very surreal comic
book adaption "Sturmtruppen".
Renato's character is the first to get drafted, Despite dressing up as a woman before the draft board. Not that the Italian army in this movie spends much time in the trenches, most of the time they are down the pup or off to a brothel, be it in a town or on a train (including Adriana Russo as one of the mobile prostitutes). Barbisettie ends up in hospital (and gets a chance to sing another period song), where by pure coincidences Mariana is pretending to be a nurse and Tomo a priest. But having been crosses by them once too many times, the vaudevillian spills the beans on Tomo, who is beat up by the other patients, forced into the regiment and becomes the butt of all their jokes for a while. Eventually the two men come to accept that better or for worse, they are stuck with each other. Tomo has no trouble slipping away from the front to visit his family, only to find out his best cow has been nicked by Mariana.
During the second half the tone of the film gets decidedly more serious. Although the two male leads keep up with the amusing banter and love/hate relationship, Laura Antonelli's character encounters nothing to laugh about, especially when a German regiment finds out she's been two timing them. The comedian and the crook find Mariana tending an old man in a shed, but true to their characters, fail to do anything to further the war effort for the rest of the film. Unfortunately the final acts's crucial scenes involving Mariana's attempts to blow up a dam don't match up with the footage of the male leads at all (and it's obvious the crew was only able to shoot the sequence once). This makes the rather depressing ending lose some of it's impact.
7 out of 10
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