13 user 9 critic

The Skin (1981)

La pelle (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, War | 25 November 1981 (France)
After the Allies liberate Naples in 1943, the life for the locals is not much easier, especially for women. Many sacrifice their dignity and morale to survive.


Liliana Cavani


Curzio Malaparte (novel), Robert Katz (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Marcello Mastroianni ... Curzio Malaparte
Ken Marshall ... Jimmy Wren
Alexandra King Alexandra King ... Deborah Wyatt
Carlo Giuffrè ... Eduardo Mazzullo
Yann Babilée Yann Babilée ... Jean-Louis
Jeanne Valérie ... Principessa a Capri
Liliana Tari Liliana Tari ... Maria Concetta
Peppe Barra Peppe Barra ... Sarto (as Giuseppe Barra)
Cristina Donadio ... Amica di Anna
Rosaria della Femmina Rosaria della Femmina ... Amante di Jimmy (as Maria Rosaria Della Femmina)
Jacques Sernas ... Gen Guillaume
Claudia Cardinale ... Principessa Consuelo Caracciolo
Burt Lancaster ... Gen. Mark Clark
Gianni Abbate Gianni Abbate
Anna Maria Ackermann Anna Maria Ackermann


In 1943, as the Italian Captain, Curzio Malaparte, shakes hands with the U.S. Army General, Mark Clark, the war is practically over for battle-scarred Naples. However, the long-awaited peace is yet to come. Among the devastating war's many casualties, once more, the innocents are the biggest victims, as the impoverished mothers and daughters are forced into prostitution, having no other means of survival. Against the backdrop of the mighty Mount Vesuvius, three disparate women--the virginal, Maria Concetta; Capri's aristocratic princess, Consuelo Caracciolo, and the idealistic U.S. Air Force pilot, Deborah Wyatt--find themselves trapped in an unbearable hell on earth. Is our delicate skin the only barrier between the immortal soul and the evils of the world? Written by Nick Riganas

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


La piel mueve al mundo !!! (The skin moves the world !!!)


Drama | War


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Italian censorship visa # 76985 delivered on 23-9-1981. See more »


At approximately 19 mn into the movie and again at approximately 1h18 mn, Goldberg, the roommate of Jimmy Wren (Ken Marshall), is seen reading an issue of the comic book "Batman". However the cover is clearly shown and is in fact that of issue N°257, published in August 1974, ie 31 years after the events of the movie. See more »


References The Sky's the Limit (1943) See more »


Jesce Sole
written by Roberto De Simone
sung by Antonella D'Agostino
recorded on "La Gatta Cenerentola"
published by La voce del padrone; EMI Italiana
See more »

User Reviews

Unique masterpiece, not for the faint-hearted
12 April 2020 | by rgm234See all my reviews

This movie tells an historic story, and begins with a somewhat arty slant. But it gradually becomes a dadaist study in human depravity and thinly veiled injustice in terrible times. Though set in WWII, it is not a war movie. It probes deeply and uncomfortably into moral issues rarely discussed in war movies. For this reason it is extremely compelling.

The plot line is not direct, and the characters often confusing, but that is it's goal to be a moving piece of cinematic art. The film develops into a Felliniesque dream where logic and a pleasant, easy, normal straightforward narrative dissolve into a a gaudy abstract symbolism that will require a second viewing to figure out. This film is on the level of Bergman, Fellini, Godard etc. It is a challenging, heartfelt film, not suitable for date night. The direction, camera, acting, editing, sets, wardrobe, casting, are excellent.

I watched this in 2020-- 12 years after it was released on the Criterion Channel. Never had heard of it, but the description sounded interesting. Interesting, the language is Italian with English subtitles, even though many of the characters are American (including Burt Lancaster) who was ironically typecast as the dithering, bullying American general (referring to Buck Turgidson in DR STRANGELOVE).

I couldn't find any professional reviews of this film, or any box office history, so, because of its ambivalent anti-war/anti-Americanism it may never have played theatrically in the US. The Criterion Channel may be the only place you'll find it. But if you love cinema, you'll love this film.

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Official Sites:

Official Site


Italy | France



Release Date:

25 November 1981 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Die Haut See more »

Filming Locations:

Cinecitta, Rome, Italy See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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