A Movie Log

A blog formerly known as Bookishness

By Charles Matthews

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Open City (Roberto Rossellini, 1945)

Anna Magnani in Open City
Pina: Anna Magnani
Don Pietro: Aldo Fabrizi
Giorgio Manfredi: Marcello Pagliero
Marcello: Vito Annichiarico
Francesco: Francesco Grandjacquet
Laura: Carla Rovere
Marina: Maria Michi
Major Bergmann: Harry Feist
Ingrid: Giovanna Galletti

Director: Roberto Rossellini
Screenplay: Sergio Amidei, Federico Fellini, Roberto Rossellini, Alberto Consiglio
Cinematography: Ubaldo Arata
Music: Renzo Rossellini

The considerable reputation of Roberto Rossellini's Open City lies in its place in film history, as a pioneering work of what came to be known as neorealism. But it often feels more conventional and traditional than subsequent films in that genre, like Vittorio De Sica's Shoeshine (1946) and Bicycle Thieves (1949) or Rossellini's own Paisan (1946). Its most famous moment, Pina's run after the truck carrying away Francesco recalls Renée Adorée's pursuit of the truck that carries John Gilbert to the Front in The Big Parade (King Vidor, 1925), and Open City depends very much on such melodramatic scenes, centered on established actors like Anna Magnani and Aldo Fabrizi instead of neorealism's dependence on nonprofessional performers. It also relies rather heavily on stereotypes, especially Harry Feist's sneering Übermensch of an SS officer and the predatory lesbian Ingrid, who is just one step away from the cliché She-Beast of the Third Reich. But none of this really detracts from the film's brilliance or its status as one of the greatest of films. It was made under the harshest of circumstances. That it was made at all is astonishing, but that it is so good and so moving is miraculous.

Watched on Turner Classic Movies

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