14 user 8 critic

La grande guerra (1959)

Not Rated | | Comedy , Drama , War | 4 May 1960 (France)
The Italian Army fought against the Austrians during World War I.


Mario Monicelli


Agenore Incrocci (story and screenplay) (as Age), Furio Scarpelli (story and screenplay) (as Scarpelli) | 4 more credits »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 6 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »


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More Like This 

Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A motley quintet of inept small-time thieves bungle the burglary of a local pawnshop in this Italian farce.

Director: Mario Monicelli
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A meek middle-aged man takes justice in his own hands.

Director: Mario Monicelli
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A group of misfits, headed by an incompetent knight named Brancaleone, set out to reach the small town of Aurocastro so that their leader can take possession of the fief.

Director: Mario Monicelli
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Amici miei (1975)
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Necchi (a bar owner), Perozzi (a journalist), Melandri (an architect) and Mascetti (a broken nobleman) live in Florence. They have been friends since their youngest years and spend every ... See full summary »

Director: Mario Monicelli
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Comedy | History
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The marquess of Grillo is a good-natured, clever and women-loving man who is always inventing stories and cracking all types of jokes. The film tells the story of his life.

Director: Mario Monicelli
Stars: Alberto Sordi, Caroline Berg, Andrea Bevilacqua
Comedy | Drama | War
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When Italy surrenders to the Allies, part of the Italian army is dispersed and soldiers begin to return to their homes.

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Esposito is a thief who cons tourists in Rome. A lengthy persecution by police Bottoni, who manages to catch it starts. In an oversight Esposito manages to flee again. Bottoni superiors inform him that if no catches him will lose his job.

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Il Sorpasso (1962)
Comedy | Drama
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An impulsive braggart takes a shy law student for a two-day ride through the Roman and Tuscany countries.

Director: Dino Risi
Stars: Vittorio Gassman, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Catherine Spaak
Adventure | Fantasy | History
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After saving an infant of royal blood, knight Brancaleone forms a new army and sets out to return the baby to his father: a prince fighting in the Crusades.

Director: Mario Monicelli
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The Organizer (1963)
Drama | History
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A former high school teacher turned unionist tries to organize workers laboring with inhuman conditions at a late 19th Century textile factory.

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I mostri (1963)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

The myths of the sixties are satirized in 20 episodes.

Director: Dino Risi
Stars: Ugo Tognazzi, Vittorio Gassman, Lando Buzzanca
Comedy | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Silvio refuses to fight for the fascists and joins the resistance with Elena. After the war, his vitriolic newspaper articles cause him to be sentenced to imprisonment.

Director: Dino Risi
Stars: Alberto Sordi, Lea Massari, Franco Fabrizi


Cast overview, first billed only:
Alberto Sordi ... Oreste Jacovacci
Vittorio Gassman ... Giovanni Busacca
Bernard Blier ... Capitano Castelli
Folco Lulli Folco Lulli ... Bordin
Vittorio Sanipoli ... Maggiore Venturi
Romolo Valli ... Tenente Gallina
Mario Valdemarin Mario Valdemarin ... Sottotenente Lorenzi
Nicola Arigliano Nicola Arigliano ... Giardino
Livio Lorenzon Livio Lorenzon ... Sergente Barriferri
Tiberio Mitri Tiberio Mitri ... Mandich
Carlo D'Angelo Carlo D'Angelo ... Capitano Ferri
Tiberio Murgia Tiberio Murgia ... Rosario Nicotra
Marcello Giorda Marcello Giorda ... Generale
Achille Compagnoni Achille Compagnoni ... Il cappellano
Geronimo Meynier Geronimo Meynier ... Il portaordini


Italy, 1916. Oreste Jacovacci and Giovanni Busacca are conscripted, as all the Italian youths, to serve the army in the WWI. They meet at the recruiting office where Giovanni bribes Oreste in the hope of securing a medical deferment, however the joke is on him when Oreste pulls off a hilarious double cross. Destine to serve as comrades in the same unit, they meet again on the train to the front. Despite the rocky beginning and the stolen money, they become friends and the comedic duo experience everything from blustery sergeants to bureaucratic requisition officers to the war weary lieutenant Hen. While in the village of Tigliano they spend some months in relative peace, and Giovanni attempts to gain the graces (and favors) of overworked prostitute Costantina, who also turns the tables to lighten his wallet. But war also brings with it gruesome sights and harrowing dangers. During the most important battle among Italians and Austro-Hungarians, as the Italians in retreat, Giovanni and ... Written by 1felco

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The great battle spectacle of our time! See more »


Comedy | Drama | War


Not Rated | See all certifications »



Italy | France


Italian | German

Release Date:

4 May 1960 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

La gran guerra See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Italian censorship visa # 30261 delivered on 16-9-1959. See more »


Referenced in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) See more »

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User Reviews

THE GREAT WAR (Mario Monicelli, 1959) ***1/2
25 February 2014 | by Bunuel1976See all my reviews

When I attended the 61st Venice Film Festival in September 2004, I saw Italian veteran film-maker Mario Monicelli several times taking a stroll by himself but, given his reputation for cantankerousness and irascibility, I thought better not to bother him; you can imagine how guilty I felt when the 95-year old frail director committed suicide by jumping out of a Roman hospital window in November 2010! Monicelli, who does not get a single mention in the "Wonders In The Dark" 3000-strong list(!), belongs with other notable Italian film directors like Pietro Germi, Elio Petri, Dino Risi, and Ettore Scola whose work had long been unjustly overshadowed by the big five, namely Antonioni, De Sica, Fellini, Rossellini and Visconti.

Best-known for his classic, star-studded caper spoof BIG DEAL ON MADONNA STREET aka PERSONS UNKNOWN (1958) – a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar contender that is still my favourite among his films and, possibly, my favourite comedy not in the English language, period! – but THE GREAT WAR (that was equally recognized by the Academy) is probably his masterpiece. Winner of the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival – tied with Roberto Rossellini's WWII drama IL GENERALE DELLA ROVERE starring Vittorio De Sica both here – over such superior titles as Otto Preminger's ANATOMY OF A MURDER, Kon Ichikawa's CONFLAGRATION and Ingmar Bergman's THE MAGICIAN (both 1958) – and at the David di Donatello awards, Italy's own equivalent of the Oscar, it is still underrated enough to have been given a baffling ** rating by "Leonard Maltin's Film Guide" – where, incidentally, its running time is given as 118 minutes, rather than the full 137 minutes – and the non-English-friendly Italian 2-Disc Set (which, after missing out on it a couple of times on TV over the years, is how I eventually watched it on the centenary of WWI, no less…albeit jettisoning the supplements altogether due to time constraints) is still its only home video release worldwide. The film's constant veering between drama and comedy requires some initial adjustment from the viewer but it eventually reaches an exquisite seamlessness. Leading man Vittorio Gassman had been renowned for drama up to his revelation as a comic actor in the aforementioned BIG DEAL ON MADONNA STREET; conversely, his sparring partner here Alberto Sordi was popular for his own comedy vehicles prior to this; indeed, Sordi would again go to war in two notable subsequent films: Luigi Comencini's similarly bittersweet EVERYBODY GO HOME! (1960) and the more typically comic THE BEST OF ENEMIES (1961; co-starring David Niven). THE GREAT WAR is an impressive Dino De Laurentiis production, notable for distinguished cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno's sinewy tracking shots along the trenches and Mario Garbuglia's award-winning expansive sets. The film also offers a showy role for De Laurentiis's actress wife Silvana Mangano as the proverbial whore with a heart of gold who possibly bears Gassman's child; interestingly, this is just one of several Gassman-Mangano teamings that included the star-making BITTER RICE (1949) and the epics TEMPEST (1958) and BARABBAS (1961). To portray the colourful supporting characters that make up the irrepressible duo's comrades-in-arms, an excellent cast of familiar character actors was dutifully enrolled: Bernard Blier, Romolo Valli, Folco Lulli, Livio Lorenzon, Tiberio Murgia (returning from BIG DEAL ON MADONNA STREET), Ferruccio Amendola and Gerard Herter.

Considering its significant length, it is understandable that the film follows an episodic structure but is decidedly replete with memorable vignettes: new enlistee Gassman bribing 'veteran' Sordi to avoid joining the Army in the opening scene; Gassman and Murgia's punishment for waking up late in the barracks is to have their hair completely shaved off; Gassman and Sordi asking their chaplain the way to the local brothel and he points them to Mangano's modest but highly popular dwelling; Amendola being constantly hit by the barracks' door whenever it is opened to herald a newly-arrived army bigwig on a morale-boosting tour of the trenches; cultured Valli being pestered by an illiterate private to write love letters to his beloved and read his mail and eventually having to lie to him when the local priest replies that she has married a rich old man; a messenger is killed when delivering a note from HQ that only wished a Happy Christmas to the troops (which causes the much-loved and usually well-behaved Lulli to throw a cup of brandy in his overzealous young superior' face); Murgia is constantly waxing about his love for famous actress Francesca Bertini but, when he does actually receive word from her, he tears up the letter after yet another casualty-ridden assault on their trenches; Gassman and Sordi giving their money, collected for an intended visit to a whorehouse, to Lulli's as-yet-unaware widow whom they chance to meet at the train station – subsequently joining a band of soldiers partying there amongst themselves with a minimum of girls to go around; Gassman and Sordi are continually volunteering for missions to shirk trench duties and often save their lives in the process: this stretch of good luck catches up with them at the end when the remote outpost they have ventured to is unknowingly abandoned by their army and they find it occupied by the Austrian enemy when they wake up the following morning; this leads to their heroic death when they refuse to divulge attack plans to Herter, followed by the film's sublimely ironic closing sequence where their long-suffering sergeant Lorenzon complains that these two ne'er-do-wells have once again managed to have it the easy way, cutting to an image of their lifeless bodies, and back again!

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