I run into this pearl of a movie totally by coincidence. I had never heard about it but my attention was drown by the appealing list of the involved artists, all protagonists of the best examples of the Italian classic moviemaking: Monicelli, Comencini, Age, Scarpelli, Manfredi, Volonte', Adorf to mention only the main ones. I did not expect much from it when i pushed the "play" button of my TV remote control and I suspected that my ignorance about the very existence of this movie was a clear evidence of some major failings in it.
Rarely I had been so wrong in prejudging a movie! I thoroughly enjoyed the superb acting (starting with Manfredi, in one of his first - and quite satisfactory - major roles), the spotless and engaging script, the brisk albeit quite resourceful direction, the artistic black and white photography, the subtle soundtrack. The movie is a canny combination of drama and comedy. Lots of hilarious situations and witty jokes - but in the context of a very sad and sometimes poignant story of a jail escape attempt conceived by a bunch of two bit petty criminals. Among them, a simpleton (Manfredi's role) who is unwillingly caught into the escape plot and ends up paying a huge price.
90 minutes of pure artistry. One can wonder - given the serious overall tone of the movie - if it can be considered part of the canon of the celebrated "commedia all'italiana", but who cares about categorizing? Enjoy this movie anyway: maybe it is the very Janus-like nature if this unexpected masterpiece which is part of its irresistible charm and interest.
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