Originally titled LA NOTTE PORTA CONSIGLIO, this was opportunistically rechristened ROMA CITTÁ LIBERA with hopes of riding on the backdraft of the burgeoning international success of Roberto Rossellini’s Neo-Realist ROMA, CITTÁ APERTA/’45. But, while the film was shot on real back street locations, revealing Rome’s hidden underbelly, stylistically, there’s little ‘Neo’ and not much ‘Realism’ going on in this post-war ensemble piece. Instead, under the glossy gaze of Aldo Tonti’s slick noir lensing (the best thing in the movie), we follow the ironic trail that a pair of stolen pearl necklaces take as they get traded, mislaid & even re-stolen over the course of a long Rome evening. Interlaced vignettes showcase the life of a soft-hearted second-story man; a suicidal romantic loner; a typist who’s behind in her rent; a few cast-off lovers & crooks; a lovelorn American soldier boy; and an amnesiac politician who all come in contact with the wandering pearls. In theory, the story anticipates Max Ophüls LA RONDE/’50 and THE EARRINGS OF MADAME DE . . ./’53), but in practice the film is a silly bit of fluff that advances its storyline thru coincidence & sentimental flourishes. (Though, speaking of coincidence, it does feature Vittorio De Sica, later one of the stars of EARRINGS. Here looking more like Charlie Chaplin than ever; click on our poster, he's the grey-haired man in the center.) Marcello Pagiero, who played a partisan in OPEN CITY, directs, keeping his fine cast moving forward. But there are just too many holes in the story for it to hold water . . . in any style.
WATCH THIS, NOT THAT/SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Composer Nino Rota, not one to let a good musical theme go to waste, repurposed much of this score for Fellini’s I VITELLONI/’53.