There is a very good chance that if Benito Mussolini had been a trifle more conservative and less egocentric he might have died in power in Rome some time in the 1950s, leaving the running of Fascist Italy in his surviving son's hands. He would have been somewhat like his opposite number in Spain, Francisco Franco, who died still running Spain in the 1970s. But Franco was lucky - his country was too weak to give military assistance to a demanding Adolf Hitler after it's bloody civil war, and Franco's Spain was across the Pyranees from the nearest German troops in France. Italy did have the Alps between it and Germany, but after 1938 the Austrian Anschluss brought the Germans to the border of Italy. Mussolini would have been forced to give a pro-Nazi neutrality to Hitler.
But Mussolini would have only himself to blame for what happened. He had far too grandiose ideas for his country. Italy was a cultural hub in Europe. In terms of real military power it was nothing. It's heyday of military power was in the Roman Empire. There was a momentary change in the 1860s under Garibaldi's army, but they were fighting to unite Italy. After 1870 the Italian army became a joke again - in 1896 it achieved an unenviable status in European history as the first colonial power to be defeated totally in a war by a "third world" country (Abyssinia - modern Ethiopia).
This situation continued in World War I where greed for territory made the Italians join the Allies. They proceeded to lose battles for nearly two years. So despised were they by their French, British, and American Allies, that when they walked out of the Versailles conference the three others ignored them until they came back on their own.
Mussolini came to public attention at this time, and he had larger international support than certain people later wanted to admit. Italian politics was pretty corrupt, and many non-Italians (like Austin Chamberlain and Winston Churchill and George Bernard Shaw) actually admired Mussolini as the strong man who would shake Italy into it's proper position in the world. To an extent they were not wrong. Mussolini did some repair work on the effectiveness of Italian life (the phrase was, "he made the trains run on time"). With the aid of some associates, his son-in-law Count Ciano and Air Marshall Balbo, he improved the aviation industry and Italian diplomacy. He also would demonstrate some wisdom - he would be the first person to question the business honesty of Ivar Krueger, the crooked Swedish "Match King".
But he was ruthless suppressing dissent - he did arrange the murder of Matteotti, the Socialist politician, in 1924. It almost caused his regime to fall, but he was able (barely) to weather it. He kept confronting Balkan states over territories that he felt were Italian by right. His belligerence would continue over the years. Sometimes the effect was actually not so bad: When Austria was nearly toppled by a Nazi coup in 1934, Mussolini sent his tanks to the Austrian border as a warning to Hitler not to move. It worked (the only time Hitler blinked in the 1930s). Mussolini, to his credit, tried to continue this policy with British and French support, but those two countries failed to take him up on it. After he was roundly condemned in 1935 for invading Ethiopia (and so avenge the 1896 humiliation), he found more in common with Hitler, and this basically doomed him.
Italy's military ineptitude kept making it's allegiance a millstone around the neck of whoever was "lucky" enough to join them. Besides Ethiopia, Mussolini invaded Albania and Yugoslavia (and it helped delay the Nazi invasion of Russia in 1941, thus helping bring about the defeat of the Nazi invasion). The Italian navy was smashed at Taranto by the British air force (an attack the Japanese noted, and used as a model for the attack on Pearl Harbor). The African colonies fell to British troops (alleviating some of the gloom of the British defeats of 1940-42). In 1943 Mussolini was overthrown in a palace coup. By 1944 he was freed by Otto Skorzeny, Hitler's favorite special agent, and set up in northern Italy as head of "The Republic of Salo". It was a temporary success for Il Duce. When the Nazis fell, so did he. Instead of that image I suggested at the start, he died in April 1945, shot by partisans, and hung upside down in a square in Milan.
This film does point out some favorable or partly favorable aspects to Il Duce. He did stimulate the country (far more than most of the politicians of the teens and twenties). He had mistresses, but he was a family man, with a daughter and two sons (one of whom was killed in Ethiopia). His daughter loved Ciano, and when the Count was involved in the palace coup (and subsequently captured by the Nazis), Mussolini did not interfere with his execution. Raul Julia does very well with his performance as Ciano, a weak man who gradually found he had to speak out (in his posthumous diaries) about the evils he saw. And in showing the emotional turmoil that Il Duce faced, George C. Scott does open up some sympathy for the dictator - but not much. His daughter never forgave him for not saving her husband.
I think the thing about Il Duce is that no matter how much evil he did, and how many people he killed, he was a family man. Hitler was not, and Stalin barely was. So he seems slightly more approachable to us than the others. It does not excuse his evil, but it slightly waters it down. This series managed to do this quite well.