July 09, 2006
Roma Citta Libera
La Notte Porta Consiglio/Rome Free City
Marcello Pagliero - 1946
NoShame Films Region 1 DVD
The original title to this film, translated as "The Night Brings Wisdom", is more accurate than the title that suggests another neo-realist drama. The title is an obvious nod to Roberto Rossellini's Rome, Open City. Marcello Pagliero's film is his tribute to Rene Clair, and is closer in spirit to such films as The Fantastic Night or After Hours. The story originated from screenwriter Ennio Flaiano and elements of Rome Citta Libera anticipate his early collaborations with Federico Fellini.
Taking place over the course of one night, the film portrays life in the margins of post-World War II Rome. Valentina Cortese, seen above trying to stay within the straight and narrow path of eking out an existence as a typist, compares her situation with Marisa Merlini, who finds ways to augment her earnings as a nightclub singer. The films other characters are similarly down if not out, usually looking for the next break or scam in order to get by. The narrative is held together by a pearl necklace that changes hands going from character to character while the film explores night in a more humble section of Rome.
One of the several nameless characters is portrayed by Vittoria De Sica, appearing as a seemingly delusional drunk in a shabby tuxedo. With his sense of grandeur and nobility, De Sica's appearance here makes for a fitting companion piece to his performance as the conman who discovers his greater self in Rossellini's General Della Rovera. His performance here is a reminder that at 44, De Sica still had his matinee idol looks even while making films like Shoeshine.
The DVD includes an interview with assistant director Luigi Fillipo D'Amico who candidly admits to family connections in what was one of his first, if not the first film assignments. D'Amico is the nephew of the prolific co-writer, Suso Cecchi D'Amico. There is also a brief interview with Italian film historian Oreste DeFornari.
Without putting too fine a point on it, the value of Roma Citta Libera is as a newly available film showcasing the above mentioned talents, plus that of co-writer Cesare Zavattini, cinematographer Aldo Tonti and composer Nino Rota. While not a rediscovered masterpiece, this is a film that helps fill a missing piece in the overall history of Italian cinema.
Posted by peter at July 9, 2006 01:59 PM
Your review succeeds in generating interest, Peter. Thank you. I'll hunt out the dvd. I love your line: "The narrative is held together by a pearl necklace that changes hands going from character to character while the film explores night in a more humble section of Rome."
Posted by: Maya at July 10, 2006 11:34 AM