La compagnia della teppa (1941)

  |  Drama

In Milan, at the time of Napoleon's domination of Europe, a group of young Italian aristocrats form a secret society, La Compagnia della Teppa

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10 May 2004 | ItalianGerry
Genteel rebellion.
This period costume drama with political overtones deals with early 19th Century Milan, and opposition to Napoleonic domination of the region. The word "teppa" is a Lombardian dialect term of pre-Latin origin and it means a clod of grassy sod or turf or peat moss. It is a term which implied hooliganism or rebellion against authority. So "The Group of Anti-establishment Rebels" might translate the title, albeit awkwardly. Historically, there was indeed such an organization in Milan that opposed the French.

Two people are the primary driving force behind this group: Giorgio Appiani, son of a nobleman, and Ada Mellario, an operatic singer. Together with some followers they instigate overt rebellions, small riots, minor sabotage, even silly gestures like substitutions of fake paintings for real ones in the museum, anything to draw attention to their cause and to be a thorn in the side of the occupying French.

The Marchese Carrera is enamored of Ada, but it is the younger Giorgio who will become her true love and ultimately her husband. The role of Giorgio is played by character actor Adriano Rimoldi, whom we may remember as the marriage-destroyer in De Sica's powerful THE CHILDREN ARE WATCHING US, about the impact of a mother's marital infidelity on her young son. Maria Denis was a reliable and talented performer throughout the Italian fascist era. Of this movie she said in an published interview, "I remember it as another of those films that are made while waiting to be able to say something more."

The music of Rossini figures heavily in the movie, and we glance at performances of at least one of his operas as part of it.

As directed by Corrado D'Errico, the film covers a great deal of ground in very short time. It runs under 70 minutes in the video copy seen. It is not a major work but an interesting one.

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