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La grande guerra (1959)

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



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


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Cast overview, first billed only:
... Oreste Jacovacci
... Giovanni Busacca
... Capitano Castelli
Folco Lulli ... Bordin
... Maggiore Venturi
... Tenente Gallina
Mario Valdemarin ... Sottotenente Lorenzi
Nicola Arigliano ... Giardino
Livio Lorenzon ... Sergente Barriferri
Tiberio Mitri ... Mandich
Carlo D'Angelo ... Capitano Ferri
Tiberio Murgia ... Rosario Nicotra
Marcello Giorda ... Generale
Achille Compagnoni ... Il cappellano
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 War is hell at its hottest...men at their mightiest...the screen at its greatest!


Comedy | Drama | War


Not Rated | See all certifications »






Release Date:

4 May 1960 (France)  »

Also Known As:

La gran guerra  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


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


Referenced in 1960 (2010) See more »

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User Reviews

Black comedy with two botcher and coward soldiers masterfully played by Alberto Sordi and Vittorio Gassman
28 October 2014 | by See all my reviews

Italy, 1916. Roman Oreste Jacovacci (Alberto Sordi) and Milanese Giovanni Busacca (Vittorio Gassman) are reluctantly recruited to Italian army during Austria-Italy war . They both attempting a great number of schemes to get out for fighting and working . Giovanni bribes Oreste, believing to his fake pledges to make him evading the army . Both of whom try in every way to avoid serving the army but their circumstance dictates otherwise , as the destiny make them meeting again on the train headed to the front. However , Oreste stolen money to Giovanni they become friends and in first times are allocated to a secondary front . As two Italian soldiers find themselves in the mists of Austrian front , much against their will . Here they spend some months in relative peace and Giovanni finds time to have affair with a whore named Constantina (Silvana Mangano married to producer Dino De Laurentiis) . But war is getting everyday closer and unfortunately, they fall in the hands of a stiff officer Lieutenant Gallina (Romolo Valli) and a tough sergeant (Livio Lorenzon) . During the most important battle among Italians and Austro-Hungarians, when the Italians had to defend the river Piave from the Austrians , Giovanni and Oreste are in charge to deliver a vital message to the Italian headquarters , but they are trapped . Austrian officer (Gerard Herter) that, under life menace, starts an interrogation to find out the Italian message . The Great War is hell at its hottest , men at their mightiest , the screen at its greatest!

This is an amusing film about two rogues called to serve the army in the WWI , as all the Italian youths , as the Italian Army fought against the Austrians during World War I , being excellently re-enacted by including movements of large numbers of soldiers during battle frames that are well come-to-life . This is a zany comedy seeing the misfit couple in all kinds of troubles involving Italian Army . This entertaining Sordi and Gassman recital provides too much amusement in detailing the duo's exploits in the wartime front . Slightly muddled but generally nice performed . Lots of comedy and hilarious dialog , including some spectacular battles with hundred of extras provided by actual Italian infantry . The film relies heavily on the continuous relationship between Albert Sordi and Vittorio Gassman , but it doesn't makes tiring , neither dull but entertaining . The main premise results to be two bungler as well as coward soldiers who under twisted circumstances turn into heroes . Special mention to Silvana Mangano as prostitute Costantina who falls in love for Giovanni . Very good Italian support cast such as Folco Lulli , Bernard Blier , Romolo Valli , Carlo A'Angelo , Livio Lorenzon and Gerard Herter , among others . Evocative and adequate photography by master cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno , Federico Fellini ordinary . Imaginative as well as sensitive musical score by the great Nino Rota , conducted by usual Franco Ferrara .

The motion picture was well directed by Mario Monicelli who gets to capture the same period feeling during the Great War . Mario Monicelli was born in 1915 Tuscany and died in 2010 , Rome ; being a good writer/filmmaker expert on comedies . As he was a writer and director, known for The army Brancaleone (1966), La ragazza Con Pistola (1968) , The marquis of Grillo (1981) and his greatest hit : Rufufú (1958). In fact , his movies Rufufú (1958), The Great War (1959) were Oscar-nominate for "Best Foreign Language Film". Furthermore , The Great War won Golden Lion in Festival of Venice .

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