20 March 2009 | jotix100
"I migliari", directed by Francesco Rosi showed up, unexpectedly, on a cable channel not long ago. It's not a film that is seen often, so we decided to watch it because anything by its director, Francesco Rosi, is worth a look. This 1959 Italian feature takes us to the Germany that was way ahead of the rest of some European countries in recovering from the ravages of the the second world war.
We are taken to the underworld, where most of the characters live. At the center of it is Totonno who is a somewhat successful scam artist. He sells inferior merchandise pretending it has a quality that is not there. Around Totonno there we find a group of Italian immigrants eking a life in Germany relying on their wits to survive in a more secure environment. After all, their own country was still recovering, sending a lot of the population to other European countries where work was plentiful.
The second plot deals with the illicit relationship between Mario, a handsome young man, and Paula Mayer, the wife of a wealthy German man that is behind the schemes of the immigrants. Mario, who falls head over heels with Paula, wants to take her away from that world, but she wants no part in his world of poverty. After all, she has seen it all. She comes clean to Mario as she reveals her past.
The atmosphere of the film gives the viewer a bird's eye view of the Germany of that time. Shot mainly in Hannover and Hamburg, this movie reflects the tastes of a lot of Italian film makers of the post war ere in shooting in the streets and a frank depiction of the lives of these small time criminals. Best of all, Alberto Sordi, probably the most versatile of the Italian actors of his generation. Also appealing is Renato Salvatori, a handsome actor that gives an excellent portrait of the complex Mario. Belinda Lee, appears as the beautiful Paula Mayer.
Giovanni DiVenanzo's black and white cinematography serves well the story as well as the score by Piero Piccioni. Francesco Rosi delivered with this enjoyable film that should be seen by fans of the director and its stars.