This film belongs to Silvana Mangano. The actress who made her debut in "Bitter Rice" (Riso Amaro) and who made the screen sizzle with her sensuality, gives the performance of a lifetime as the daughter of Benito Mussolini and the wife of his foreign minister, Galeazzo Ciano, played by Frank Wolff. The movie is a factual representation of the events that led to Mussolini's arrest in 1943, something that saw Ciano play a major role within the hierarchy of the fascist party headed by Mussolini. Ciano's famous diaries were a major factor in deciding his fate following "Il processo di Verona" (The Verona Trial), where a number of former fascist gerarchs were tried for treason. History buffs will be familiar with the diaries which were published after the end of the second world war, providing intimate accounts of meetings with both Hitler and Mussolini.
Wolff delivers a solid performance as the count, but Mangano's Countess Edda Ciano is riveting. She is caught between father and husband, finally disillusioned with both, while displaying a range of emotions that do her credit as a serious actress. Director Carlo Lizzani does well to hold the viewer through the two hours, with creative camera work and a number of other devices (newsreels, and machine gun fire in some of the scene transitions). Special credit should go to the writers, Sergio Amidei and Ugo Pirro, for dialog that is convincing in expressing strong emotions.
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