Roughly made, but fascinating Italian film, a melodrama with Neo-Realist trimmings from director Alberto Lattuada (who’d later make MAFIOSO/’62) & co-scripted by Federico Fellini (who’d later make . . . well, you know). It lays out the inner-workings of an Italian coastal town in the aftermath of WWII where everything runs on Black Market capitalism, overseen by a pitiless man-in-white who pulls all the strings. And that would include a host of lost women, drifting into prostitution while trying to raise cash to go home, send home, or bribe their way out. One of them memorably played by Fellini’s actress wife, Giulietta Masina, in something of a try-out for NIGHTS OF CABIRIA/’57. Here, she’s a girl who gets away while a less lucky new friend, Carla Del Poggio (Lattuada’s actress wife), is jailed on a trumped up charge after rescuing an American soldier during a shooting incident. That’d be John Kitzmiller (well remembered for a turn with Sean Connery in DR. NO/’62), he’s one of the many black G.I.s trying to stay in Italy rather than go home to face Stateside prejudice. He winds up unlikely protector to Del Poggi, but the cards, or rather, the contraband wars, are stacked against them. Loaded with clichés in theme, story & character, and substituting easily digested passive/progressive racial politics for a leading man (Kitzmiller is one happy-go-lucky, spiritual humming, non-sexual being), they do manage to get close to the target anyway. But it's more historical curiosity than convincing drama.
ATTENTION MUST BE PAID: In addition to Lattuada & Fellini, there’s quite the check list of emerging Italian talent in here: producer Carlo Ponti; music Nino Rota; co-writer Tullio Pinelli; designer Piero Gherardi; cinematographer Aldo Tonti.
DOUBLE-BILL: As mentioned above, NIGHTS OF CABIRIA.