Polite, ornate historical movie, shot 4:3 for television in grand color. I had to look this up: XIV was two Louises before the Louis who married Marie Antoinette then got killed in 1793 by the French Revolution. All these Louises had long reigns, so the movie takes place a good century before the Revolution.

This Louis seems a pudgy weakling, more interested in partying and women than in ruling the country, until his main advisor Cardinal Mazarin dies. From then on, the king decides to take charge, proclaims that all policy must be personally approved by him, and arrests the advisor who had schemed to take control after the cardinal’s death.

At the end, the King moves the palace to Versailles, and gets all the nobles to follow him there, consolidating all power around himself.

dying cardinal mazarin:

I wonder if there were commercial breaks when this first aired – it has the abrupt fade-outs at the end of scenes that usually signal that an ad is coming. J. Hoberman says Rossellini’s late TV works “have an intimacy well-suited to the small screen,” but I watched this movie and all his others on my laptop screen, so I’ve long ago lost the difference between theatrical and television. It didn’t seem any more intimate than the Ingrid Bergman films.

Some truth from Tag: “‘You always have to try to emphasize the emotion,’ said Rossellini. Despite the strange rumor in film textbooks that Rossellini siezes reality in the raw, in fact, he carefully crafts his display.”

Louis in his fancypants:

It has a theatrical quality, with people standing and stuffily proclaiming things to others who ought to know already. You’ve gotta mix exposition with your realism if you want audiences to understand your history-lesson TV-movie. The king seems a stiff actor at first, but I started to like him. He never smiles, and the closest he ever gets to a look of glorious kingly determination is a sort of sad droop with shades of anger. It’s quite a good movie but I guess I don’t understand what makes this different from other historical fiction, how Rossellini thought of his TV work as an educational revolution, or how this became an Anthology Film Archives staple.

Louis’s mom is kind of mean to him:

Renzo: “He had a utopian vision: to save the world through television. His utopian vision was that television could free mankind from ignorance, and that freeing mankind from ignorance would also eliminate hunger and unemployment and all other evils. He considered ignorance the source of all the world’s ills. He thought that his function as a mature director was to achieve this. Hence the idea of making films based on history as the font of knowledge, and the idea of describing the world through television.” Tag says R.R. announced in 1962 that cinema is dead and made a doc on the history of iron, which flopped, causing him to be quite depressed. A couple years later, Louis XIV was chosen to close the Venice Film Festival, and a third of the French population watched it on TV. Tag says you can learn more about the life of Rossellini’s historical subjects from a desk encyclopedia than from watching the films, so the films are more for conveying the emotions of the events. “Rossellini’s heroes are the loonies who turn the most damn-fool ideas into reality. … heroes whose inner fire takes us with them into our new reality. … but in Louis’s case, as often in history, the big effort is to subjugate people rather than illuminate them, to create slaves who think they’re free.”

scheming Fouquet:

The guy playing Louis was an office clerk and amateur play director, nervous on camera, reading most of his lines off a blackboard. Colbert, mustachioed advisor to the king, is Raymond Jourdan of Renoir’s The Elusive Corporal. But mostly they’re first-time or small-time actors. Script adapted by Jean Gruault, who worked with Rivette, Truffaut and Resnais.

Tag calls it “the story of a man who was afraid and so creates a new reality where he’ll control everyone … it’s a horror film.”

First some context from the always-reliable Tag. By 1958/59, Rossellini “hated commercial cinema with a vengeance,” but was broke as usual, so “was selling himself to a producer for a project that wasn’t his own.” Films about the Italian government’s WWII collaboration with nazis had been forbidden for years, and as this ban was lifted, Rossellini shared the golden lion at Venice with Mario Monicelli (The Great War) for breaking taboos. So, sucked back into a system he hated, he ended up with his biggest success since Open City.

Adapting the true story about a fake leader of the anti-fascist resistance planted in a political prison to try and ferret out the real resistance leaders, Rossellini was assigned fellow neorealist director Vittorio de Sica as a lead actor. And he’s excellent, I thought, but Tag says R.R. considered VdS a ham, and utilized tricks to make him tone down his huge performance. Either way, it’s an engrossing movie about sordid wartime subjects.

De Sica is Bardone aka Grimaldi, a local during the occupation who meets nazi Colonel Muller (Hannes Messemer, POW camp commandant in The Great Escape) on the street and gives him directions, then proceeds to his usual past time, which is scamming his countrymen whose relatives are in jail, collecting gifts to pass on to the imprisoned, and money for their release, then gambling it away. His girl Valeria (Sandra Milo of Juliet of the Spirits and 8 1/2) leaves him, and while looking for a sucker to buy some fake jewelry, he visits Olga (Giovanna Ralli, star of RR’s follow-up Escape By Night), an ex working in a brothel.

Valeria:

Olga:

Meanwhile, in a botched capture attempt, General Della Rovere of the partisan underground is killed. And Bardone is arrested, turned in by a girl he was trying to scam (Anne Vernon, Deneuve’s mom in Umbrellas of Cherbourg), promising to free her husband who had already been executed. Bardone pleads his case passionately, saying he’s providing a great service to the locals by providing false hope in a hopeless time, and Col. Muller gets an idea.

Anne Vernon:

The second half of the movie is traitorous Bardone doing time in a political prison, trying to identify captured leaders of the underground so they can be tortured for information. But Bardone spends enough time faking that he’s General Della Rovere that he starts to believe it, taking to heart the letters he receives from Rovere’s wife. “When you don’t know which path to take, choose the hardest one.”

His new friend Banchelli the barber (Vittorio Caprioli, plant manager in Tout va bien) is tortured to death, and Rovere is tortured as well, as Muller gets tired of waiting for results. In the end, Bardone/Rovere meets the leader of the resistance, but goes voluntarily to the firing squad without divulging the secret, a patriot at last. Yeah, it’s a bit melodramatic.

Banchelli:

Film Quarterly said the first section, before Bardone is arrested, was “much too long.” This may be true if you’ve read the true story, or are expecting a prison movie. But I thought it was perfectly timed out, because we get to know him before prison, see what a scoundrel he is, and how he deals with friends and strangers. Then his turn in prison from early nervousness to pride in his (false) position of honor to partisan has more meaning.

Starts out with a chattery narrator, dropping wordplay over straightforwardly tourist-doc images of the city. After some minutes of this it shows various episodes with very slight stories, which almost feel like they were scripted after the fact when writing the voiceover, if not for a few scenes that prove otherwise. T. Gallagher’s book says the movie was shot just how it looks like it was shot – piecemeal, one sequence at a time, as R.R. focused on raising funds, having an affair and breaking up with Ingrid Bergman.

I had subtitle problems on my copy, but managed to make it through since there’s little dialogue. Overall not one of my favorite movies, except I was blown away by the first sequence after the tourist-doc intro: loggers on elephants. The director of the Vienna film festival agrees: “The real reason for including the film in the Viennale is my love for the elephants.” After the logging (the elephants knock down threes then lift them on their tusks) the men scrub their elephants clean.

Quick time out for a puppet show, then a boy elephanter is climbing trees to catch glimpses of the girl he likes. Marriage negotiations follow. Cows, a deer, a warthog, and an old man versus a tiger.

Final story: a pet monkey’s owner dies in the desert. Awesome/sad scene as the monkey stays with the owner as long as he can, with vultures approaching and the man not responding. Then the monkey heads to the city, chain leash still trailing behind, and tries unsuccessfully to make new friends. A weird place to end the movie.

Rossellini had already shown a knack for filming children (perhaps why Truffaut loved him so), and now he proves a master at animal drama – which is good, since he’s almost forgotten to include any human drama in the movie. A four-hour India miniseries came out the same year – not sure if it’s an expanded version of this same material or something completely different.

R.R. places a deteriorating family amongst lovely scenery, like a proto-Eclisse or Climates. Ingrid Bergman and husband George Sanders are a bored rich couple in Naples waiting for an inheritance sale to come through – the first time they’ve been alone without friends and distractions since their marriage began eight years prior, and the solitude immediately reveals that they’re not very good together. Bergman is troubled and questioning, the titular voyager, taking meaningful tourist trips, while cruel drunken Sanders fucks off to Capri, hangs with some old acquaintances, tries to hook up with one of them then drives around with a prostitute. Finally back together, the couple admits it’s not working and plans divorce (in between two death scenes – Pompeii then a funeral), but a minute later they’re separated in the streets and run back into each other’s arms. This seems like an unhappy ending to me, but I’m not Italian so I wouldn’t know.

We visit Pompeii and unearth dead lovers, while Vesuvius lurks in the background, where I imagine Bergman’s clone is running from her husband Stromboli-style. Much mention from the locals about Bergman’s uncle Homer, late owner of the inherited property, how loved and respected he was. Our modern couple couldn’t seem to care less about love and respect, these small-town people and their concerns and customs.

Bergman is led around the area by Leslie Daniels, later of The Brain That Wouldn’t Die while Sanders hits on Maria Mauban, later of a Chabrol movie called Code Name: Tiger. Sanders had recently won an oscar as the gossip columnist narrator in All About Eve, and had as little respect for this film as his character had for his own circumstances, saying “the story of the film was never understood at any time by anyone, least of all the audience when the picture was released.” Ross nicked DP Enzo Serafin from the last few Antonioni films and had long stretches with no music, but it was brother Renzo’s most pleasant whenever it arrived. I liked it much more than Stromboli, not as much as Europa 51. For all R.R.’s supposed realism, I’ve been lately feeling that his movies’ endings ring false.

DVD commentarian Laura Mulvey calls it the last of the three “major” Rossellini/Bergman films, and the last of their marriage, “a story of social contrast and cultural shock,” and says that Renzo uses Neapolitan folk songs in his score. I can’t believe I didn’t catch this: the couple’s last name is Joyce, and Bergman tells a story of an admirer from her youth similar to the climax of James Joyce’s The Dead.

In one of the extras on the War Trilogy DVDs, somebody mentions the progression of location-specific titles in Rossellini’s films – from a city in Rome Open City, moving out to multiple cities in Paisan, to a country in Germany Year Zero, to an entire continent in Europa ’51. I had that in mind, also thinking of it as Ingrid Bergman’s followup to the island-landscape picture Stromboli, so was surprised that Europa goes smaller-scale, starting with a single upper-class family and ultimately focusing on one individual. It seems to be about compassion in modern society, which makes it more properly a follow-up to RR’s Flowers of St. Francis than Stromboli.

Irene (Bergman) and George (Alexander Knox, blacklisted in the US, later in Losey pictures) are wealthy enough to not have to deal directly with their sensitive son, leaving his care to teachers and housekeepers. George is sort of a motherfucker in general, won’t listen to anyone but himself, but he seems alright in small doses. Anyway, their son is tired of the constant neglect and throws himself down the stairs, dying soon after.

Unhappy couple:

Irene’s friend Andrea (a male name in Italian, played by writer/director Ettore Giannini) tells her the fatal fall was probably on purpose, and she reacts violently: “Oh George, we should change everything in our life!” Everyone else moves on, and it doesn’t take long before they’re chastising Irene for her manners instead of understanding her grief. She asks Andrea how she can help other children and he leads her to the slums, where the Galli family has a sick child who needs money for medicine.

She spends more time down there, meets local prostitute Ines and poor but joyous mother (and adoptive mother) Passerotto (La Strada star Giulietta Masina). Irene covers for a day at Passerotto’s new factory job, comes home angry, saying factory work is “an horrendous condemnation. And to think they want to raise work to a godlike status,” argues about it with communist Andrea, then goes back out in her mission to help humanity and atone for being a poor mother.

Dying Ines:

Giulietta Masina won’t stop talking long enough to take a screenshot:

Comes across Ines on the street, very sick with TB, takes her home and stays with her. But when Ines dies, Irene finds herself in the middle of a new neighborhood crisis, helping a criminal escape and getting rewarded with prison, then an asylum. Here the movie comes across as slightly obvious, when the psychologists decide to keep her locked up indefinitely because they can’t comprehend her selflessness, saying their mission is to “defend society as it is,” the last word on the subject being yelled outside the gates by Passerotto: “She’s a saint!”

Science vs. Compassion:

I was going to call it The Passion of Ingrid Bergman, forgetting that a couple years later, Rossellini and Bergman would make an actual Joan of Arc film. Instead, TCM confirms my thoughts about St. Francis with a Bergman quote (paraphrasing RR speaking to her): “I am going to make a story about Saint Francis and [Francis is] going to be you. It was just how we would behave in ’51 if a woman gives up a rich husband, a rich life, all her friends, everything, and goes out into the street to help the poor.” I guess critics have called it uneven, but I found it so much more interesting and less grating than Stromboli that I didn’t notice.

A very light-hearted, beautiful, episodic film about a group of monks who follow St. Francis. I didn’t know Rossellini was capable of humor and lightness – this comes as pleasantly surprising as Smiles of a Summer Night. The monks look silly running everywhere they go, and they take in a village idiot who never quite gets the hang of things, so I thought for a while that this was a religion-mocking predecessor of Life of Brian, but the underlying seriousness about their faith and Francis’s lessons on humility come through by the end.

Rossellini:

“As the title indicates, my film wants to focus on the merrier aspect of the Franciscan experience, on the playfulness, the ‘perfect delight,’ the freedom that the spirit finds in poverty and in an absolute detachment from material things. . . . I believe that certain aspects of primitive Franciscanism could best satisfy the deepest aspirations and needs of a humanity who, enslaved by its greed and having totally forgotten the Poverello’s lesson, has also lost its joy of life.”

I. Francesco returns from Rome with his companions, having been given the Pope’s permission to preach. Someone has taken over their old hut, so they wander off in the pouring rain to build a new one.

II. Brother Ginepro gave away his clothes to a beggar. Francesco tells him not to do this anymore.

III. Francesco talks to birds. Wrinkled ol’ Giovanni The Simple is given permission to join the group. I can’t remember where I read this, but it said the actor who played Giovanni was too drunk to learn any lines, so they’d shove him in front of camera to improvise his scenes. He’d played a monk earlier in L’Amore.

Francis with bird:

IV. Sister Chiara comes to visit, has dinner with Francesco. It’s said that she first became a nun in their chapel, but I thought they just built the chapel in the middle of nowhere. Guess not.

V. Troublesome Ginepro cuts off the foot of a neighboring farmer’s pig to offer to a sick comrade. The farmer gets understandably angry. Ginepro tries to apologize.

VI. A wordless section: “How San Francesco, praying in the forest at night, met the leper.” Francis silently commisserates.

VII. Ginepro again, makes enough stew to last two weeks so the guys don’t have to stop preaching to cook. Francesco is impressed, gives him permission to go preach, but he must always begin by humbly saying “Baa, baa, baa, much I say, little I do.”

VIII. Ginepro “baa baa”s his way into a violent village of warrior-thugs, who beat the shit out of him and play jumprope with his body. He gets a private conference with heavily armored warlord Aldo Fabrizi (the priest of Rome Open City – I didn’t recognize him in the mop wig and fake mustache) who finally figures out that Ginepro is obviously not a threat.

IX. Francesco is sad because he sees a bandit killed. He and brother Leone try to preach at a house but get tossed out into the mud. He explains that this suffering is “perfect happiness.”

X. The group breaks up. Francesco has everyone spin in circles until they fall down dizzy – whichever city they’re now facing is where they must go preach.

M. Porro: “Rossellini said that his film was a humble and austere work, realistically describing the spirit of the story. … In the cinema, biblical and evangelical subjects took the form of big American films. Think of a film like The Bible by John Huston, The Robe, King of Kings, The Greatest Story Ever Told. The rhetoric of these films interferes with the spiritual message.”

I didn’t hate this movie, but neither did I feel much sympathy for the lead character – and for the most part, she’s all we’ve got. Ingrid Bergman is a Lithuanian in a post-war displaced-women camp within Italy, denied her visa to Argentina, no family so no place to go. Hence, she agrees to marry some Italian who proposes through the barbed-wire fence, even though she doesn’t know him and speaks very little Italian. He whisks her away to the volcano town of Stromboli, which gives the movie its title since William Castle had already taken When Strangers Marry.

The music sounds doomed, and Ingrid is shocked at her new husband Antonio’s home, a poor, crumbling house in a near-deserted city beneath the volcano. “I’m very different from you. I belong to another class.” She cries in her room while a baby cries in the other room. I figured the movie is telling us that she’s being a baby, and I’d agree, but Rossellini allows her to get increasingly worse, asking the local priest for money, trying to run off with the lighthouse keeper, eventually escaping her husband (a hard-working fisherman who can’t adjust to his newly-pregnant wife’s attention-drawing big-city hysterics), running up the volcano (the second Rossellini movie in two years that ends with a pregnant woman, outcast from her small town, climbing a mountain) and shouting at God, making demands, just like she’s shouted at everyone else in the movie.

Maybe R.R. doesn’t want us to root for anyone, just presenting a story, saying this is how things are sometimes. Bergman’s character admits her faults, sums it up nicely: “They are horrible… I’m even worse.” The volcano eruption before her escape is probably highly symbolic, and her god-shouting at the end is supposed to be redemptive… or is it? I couldn’t figure it out, hence all the quoting below.

F. Camper on the ending:

[Tag] Gallagher also points out that, at the time Stromboli was made, Rossellini gave it an unmistakably Christian interpretation, saying that at the end “God [forces] her to invoke the light of Grace.” A decade later, however, when he was speaking to interviewers with different views and perhaps had changed himself, he declared such interpretations misunderstandings. … [this argument] seems to turn mostly on how broadly one conceives of grace, which perhaps depends on whether one is or is not Christian.

H. Salas in Senses says this film began R.R.’s “modern” period, during which Marxist critics accused him of betraying neorealism and Cahiers declared him the father of modern film. Elsewhere in Senses, J. Flaus defines its modernity – the most simply convincing explanation of Rossellini’s achievements that I’ve yet read:

Rossellini broke with the conventions of the classical narrative form which had dominated dramatic film from the introduction of sound in the late 1920’s. … If we have a [disappointed] response to Stromboli it will probably be because we are trying to assess it by the very conventions it seeks to depart from. … Rossellini directed Stromboli and other films of this period as though theatrical drama had never existed. His camera covers the action with few cuts or tight framings while the interaction between characters may seem ‘superficial’, lacking the familiar layers of development. Essentially he tells his story without expression: dialogue does not explore its subject matter, actors don’t ‘act’ so much as they ‘behave’, images are not ‘beautiful’ pictures of their subjects.

Rossellini moderates what might otherwise be too stringent a method: he chooses his moments to conform to the ‘rules’ and not only moments but even an entire sequence, such as the extraordinary scene of harvesting the shoal of tuna. But for the greater part of the film the narrative may seem to be merely outlines, not ‘filled in’. That was his artistic mission: not to sweep the rules away entirely, but to uncover a genuine cinematic experience which had been overlaid by the habits of another related but different art form.

Also great from J. Flaus: “For many of Rossellini’s generation, to walk out on a marriage is to cross a volcano.”

B. Stevenson’s analysis is almost impossible to quote in part since it seems like two massive sentences pointing out a similar trajectory in Bergman’s character over this and the next two movies (“descent, purgation and salvation”), and how the rough terrain of the island and volcanic eruption tie into the landscapes and warfare of the previous trilogy.

F. Camper:

Rossellini began the 1950 essay “Why I Directed Stromboli” by stating “one of the toughest lessons from this last war is the danger of aggressive egotism,” which he said leads to “a new solitude.” This is the theme that unites Stromboli’s subject and style. Karin’s redecoration of their home, with affectations such as chairs with very short legs, represents the antithesis of Rossellini’s approach to style. The villagers’ idea that she lacks modesty is correct: rather than try to understand their life and traditions, she imports tastes from a different culture. But in the film’s view they’re no more modest than she, with their narrow-minded judgments, facile misreadings, and harsh condemnations. Nor is Antonio blameless; he ultimately asserts his dominance over Karin by force. Almost no one here is able to transcend the boundaries of his or her own mind.

Like many of cinema’s masterpieces, Stromboli is fully explained only in a final scene that brings into harmony the protagonist’s state of mind and the imagery. This structure – also evident in films as diverse as Frank Borzage’s The Mortal Storm and Carl Dreyer’s Ordet – suggests a belief in the transformative power of revelation. Forced to drop her suitcase (itself far more modest than the trunks she arrived with) as she ascends the volcano, Karin is stripped of her pride and reduced – or elevated – to the condition of a crying child, a kind of first human being who, divested of the trappings of self, must learn to see and speak again from a personal “year zero” (to borrow from another Rossellini film title).

Deleuze creates his own trilogy out of this movie, Europa 51 and Germany Year Zero. He wrote about it in Cinema 2: The Time-Image, which I don’t have, or at least can’t find right now.

M. Grost, who mentions that it was shot near the islands used for L’Avventura:

One of the best scenes in the film shows a maze-like group of buildings from which Bergman is trying to escape. She wanders a great deal through them, and never does find her way out. But she gets some emotional relief from a large cactus plant in the background at one point. Later, she will have a similar plant inside her house: an innovation never heard of by the local islanders. … The politics of Stromboli recall those of Luchino Visconti’s La Terra Trema. Both deal with Sicilian fishermen. Both films express great pity about the extreme poverty and primitiveness of the life style of the fishermen; both are manifestos demanding improvements in their lot. Yet both films are deeply critical of the fisher society, and the way its inhabitants cling to their traditions.

The dubbing is wicked bad at times (I watched Rossellini’s English version, not his Italian-dubbed edition or the U.S. studio cut). One rabbit and a ton of fish are killed. Locals as actors, except the priest is Renzo Cesana, in two Hollywood movies the same year. Apparently due to a production company dispute (or Rossellini changing girlfriends), a movie called Volcano with the same plot was shot/released at the same time starring Anna Magnani. Nominated for the top prize in Venice but decried in the U.S. senate and by the catholic church.

The end of the War Trilogy, and the one I’d seen once before in a mega-depressing Italian Neorealism night programmed by TCM, which included Ossessione and Umberto D.

No Fellini involvement this time, just R.R. in a foreign land with unknown actors. Being an Italian, foreign pictures were no problem – doesn’t matter what anybody is saying because they’ll be dubbed later. A fairly active and mobile camera for 1948, with plenty of exteriors of course, by D.P. Robert Juillard, who’d later shoot René Clément’s Forbidden Games. Big noisy music by brother Renzo.

Little Edmund is being pulled in all directions. He lives with his family, who board with a cranky other family. The elders complain that Edmund is made to go out and work for them, but they barely lift a finger to help – father is ill, brother is a nazi soldier in hiding, and sister dances with men at night for cigarettes. Edmund even picks up tasks for the landlords, who then bitch and moan if he doesn’t do them right. He’s not extremely street smart (Hitler Youth underprepared him for ruinous defeat), is taken advantage of wherever he goes. He falls in with a nazi (and very likely pedophile, extremely creepy, touchy dude who loves hanging out with boys) ex-schoolteacher who plants the idea in Edmund’s mind to poison his father and lessen the burden around the house. But doing this only makes Ed feel worse, and he throws himself off a building.

Rosenbaum:

“This movie, filmed in Berlin in the summer of 1947,” [Rossellini] declared …, is “an objective and faithful portrait,” not “an accusation or even a defense of the German people.” Yet objectivity was clearly (and thankfully) the last thing Rossellini had in mind. Even the doom-ridden modernist score by his brother Renzo participates in the sense of unfolding disbelief and horror by suggesting some of the mood of science fiction. And the directive later in the preface to care about these Germans rather than call for any further retribution is actually more consistent with Rossellini’s aims than any “objective assessment” could be. This was a brave and principled stance for him to take at the time, and it still places Germany Year Zero well in advance of most films about war made even today.

That ending (Rossellini says the ending was the only part of this film that interested him) is so powerful that although it’s one of the all-time most depressing movie finales, I could watch it over and over. Ed allows himself to be more of a kid here, playing games that get increasingly war-like and suicidal – he pretends that a bit of metal is a gun, and his first instinct is to shoot himself with it. The final pan up to the ruined city skyline (one of many majestic shots of bombed-out Berlin) reminds me of that final skyline shot as the kids walk away from the murdered priest at the end of Rome Open City.

Middle of R.R.’s war trilogy, six episodes about different wartime encounters with (mostly?) Americans. The movie’s subject is that “war is an epidemic that sweeps up everyone in its path,” sayeth the TV narrator. A pretty active and mobile camera, and big noisy music by brother Renzo. Fellini was co-writer and assistant director. A whole bunch of writers, including Alfred Hayes (later Clash By Night and Human Desire) who might account for the surprisingly not-bad English dialogue.

1.
A couple of misunderstandings. U.S. soldiers come to town, recruit a local girl to lead them over the mine-laced lava path. Joe stays in a building with her while the others go ahead. Nazis wander in as Joe is connecting with the girl despite their language barrier, shoot Joe then toss her off the cliff. When the Americans return, they assume the traitorous Italian girl killed their friend then ran off.

2.
Black American soldier hangs out with kid, drunkenly assaults a puppet show, gets his shoes stolen, later comes after the kid to reclaim his shoes but leaves empty-handed, shocked to realize that the kids live in rubble, their parents dead from the bombings. It’s practically a Germany Year Zero prequel.

3.
This and the previous episode give the impression that there were about 200 people in wartime Italy. Very easy to find someone you’re looking for in the streets, or to run into an old acquaintance. Kind of a cheesy episode, a soldier sleeping with some lowlife whore (Maria Michi, the drug-addled turncoat in Rome Open City), telling her dreamily about this perfect upright Italian girl he met before the war, wishing he could meet her again and marry her – of course they are the same girl. Interesting, the Allies shown as liberating heroes, then as witnesses to (or, more likely, causers of) Italy’s immediate post-liberation decline into poverty and desperation.

4.
Nurse Harriet Medin (later in Blood and Black Lace and The Horrible Dr. Hichcock) enlists headstrong dude named Massimo (Renzo Avanzo, later a co-writer of The Golden Coach) trying to get into zone the rebels (partisans) control, only for her to find out her man, now leader of the locals, died that morning. The most action-packed fighting scenes of the movie.

5.
This was a favorite. Three American chaplains visit a monastery, are welcomed happily until the monks find out one is a protestant and one a jew, then commence praying and fasting in hopes that the two can be saved.

6.
The most typically propagandistic of the episodes, showing Italian partisans, British and American soldiers helping each other and fighting together, while Nazis kill peaceful villagers then capture our heroes and murder them all. A downbeat, defeated finale, ending in death like the other two movies in the War Trilogy.