22 August 2008 | vespatian75
Spiritual and worldly love during the Spanish Civil War
Despite some obvious flaws I regard this film as a major achievement. The first obvious problem is the dubbing. Vittorio De Sica, a great actor is dubbed in English by a run of the mill voice over technician. The film suffers from being a joint Anglo/American- Italian production.
But it is one of the most mature treatments of a political historical theme that I have ever seen. Neither the loyalists nor the Franco led rebels are spared. Both are essentially brutal totalitarians. The Catholic Church is not spared either. Churchmen are showed to be so out of touch with their flock as to be almost comical, and yet when finally knocked off their pedestal they recover their Christianity. Dirk Bogard gives a subtle and brilliant performance as the tortured young priest. Ava Gardner is perfect as the cynical and yet innocent prostitute. It is actually to her advantage that she played this role at 37 rather than ten years earlier. She would simply been too overpoweringly beautiful to have been fully creditable in the part. Aldo Frabrizzi's part may be too reminiscent of his role in Open City especially at the end. Vittorio De Sica seems to have been doing an imitation of Claude Raines in Casablanca. It would have been good to have heard those two great actors in their native Italian. Joseph Cotton as the one eyed jaded reporter gives a broad yet compelling interpretation. The films failings pale in comparison to its overriding importance.