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Sunday, June 8, 2008


Helmer Gillo (BATTLE OF ALGIERS) Pontecorvo’s debut is a Marxist/Soviet agitprop meller about a Sicilian fisherman (Yves Montand) who uses dynamite for bait, thumbing his nose at the authorities and turning his back on the emerging local Co-Op. Trying to better himself, he dreams the capitalist dream and gets a big engine & the big debt that goes with the investment. When things go awry, he takes chances, disses his fellows by dynamite fishing near the coast, and the inevitable tragedy occurs. Shot with a weirdly effective mix of leftover Neo-Realist tenets, movie stars (Alida Valli is Montand’s wife), cute kids, WideScreen color & a supercharged music score, it’s all so steeped in political predetermination that you may get the giggles on reflection. But it works like crazy while you are watching, and Pontecorvo would both purify and move beyond Stalinist doctrines after witnessing the USSR playing with dynamite in Hungary just weeks after WIDE BLUE was released.

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