Tribute to Naples, where director De Sica spent his first years, this is a collection of 6 Neapolitan episodes : a clown exploited by a gangster ; an inconstant pizza seller (Sofia) losing her husband's ring ; the funeral of a child ; the gambler Count Prospero B. defeated by a kid ; the unexpected and unusual wedding of Teresa, a prostitute ; the "professor" Ersilio Micci, a "wisdom seller".Written by
Director Vittorio De Sica, who also plays the role of count Prospero, often used to pick up actors for his movies from the streets. He proposed the role of count Prospero to lawyer Alfredo Jelardi, whom he had seen in action in a court in Naples and who was well known in Naples. De Sica invited the lawyer in a hotel in Naples to discuss the proposal: Jelardi was really interested, despite never having performed in any kind of recitation, but at the end he decided to refuse the proposal because the role remembered him too much some aspects of his private life. Jelardi asked De Sica to personally play the role drawing inspiration from him. See more »
On April 22nd TCM showed a version of this movie that included the "Dead Child" segment. The run time for this showing was 2:10:44. See more »
A masterwork about Naples directed by a Neapolitan that really has it all. As with all 'portmanteau' films there are segments that 'appeal' more than others although here all of them have merit. The 'wow' factor obviously belongs to 'Pizza on Credit' in which a lusty, unfaithful wife pretends to have mislaid her wedding ring in the pizza dough. No director brought out the raw, earthy sensuality of Sophia Loren as well as de Sica who apparently choreographed her every move, gesture and inflection. Bringing them together proved a masterstroke by Carlo Ponti and as we know the de Sica/Loren partnership reaped rich rewards.
The segment called 'The Gambler' featuring de Sica himself as an impoverished nobleman is masterful. Just how many hopefuls he auditioned before casting Piero Bilancioni as the servant's son who keeps beating him at cards is anyone's guess but the boy is stupendous and one wonders what became of him.
Personally the story that stays with me most features Silvana Mangano as Teresa, a former prostitute who is faced with a tough choice between being the mistress of a large house and denied a husband's love or going back to her old 'profession'. The scene where she wavers and goes from tearfulness to defiant resolution is La Mangano at her most magnificent and is certainly one of the finest moments in Italian cinema.
Music is by Alessandro Cicognigni, a regular de Sica collaborator and Carlo Montuori, who went on to film 'Bicycle Thieves', is behind the camera. The story by Giuseppe Marotta is adapted by the ubiquitous Cesare Zavattini who also had a hand in the screenplay.
De Sica himself once said that 'Neapolitans, like children, always look good on camera' but in this he was being unduly modest.
A truly magical film of which one can never tire.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this