The Challenge (1958) Poster

(1958)

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7/10
A Man's Desires Are Simple, But The World Is Complicated
boblipton5 July 2020
José Suárez has a good racket smuggling American cigarettes into Naples, but he's ambitious. He heads to the country, to become a broker for farm produce. That trade, however, is controlled by the Camorra. He comes to an understanding with them, but that puts him in their pocket. On his wedding day with Rosanna Schiaffino, they squeeze.

It's a dark and stormy movie by Francesco Rosi about the intersection between ambition, business, beautifully written and performed. Suárez offers a dynamite performance in a role that is simple in its motivation, but complex in its performance.
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Respectable first feature from a major director.
Mozjoukine26 April 2004
Rosi, later director of SALVATORE GIULIANO and the Gian Maria Volonte thrillers, is running up to speed here but the strong use of location - Naples tenements contrasted to the farming community - makes him an interesting link between the Neo Realists and the political thriller lot of the seventies, Damiano and the rest.

Suarez, the lead, switches from cigarette smuggling to vegetables, forming an uneasy alliance with the rural crime Don. We know he's going to get his but before that happens he's paired with Schiafino among the laundry drying on the roof, so that their mothers can argue whether she's an under age innocent or the local slut, and moved her into a bay view flat. Some suspense builds with in the final drive back to the city.

Compare this one with the similar themed American JUKE GIRL and THIEVES' HIGHWAY.

The technicians are excellent, with Di Venanzo's total focus look evident here before his Antonioni successes made him famous.
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