Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Il Generale della Rovere (1959)

Director: Roberto Rossellini

Starring: Vittorio De Sica, Hannes Messemer, Vittorio Caprioli, Nando Angelini, Herbert Fischer, Mary Greco

More info: IMDb

Plot: Genoa, 1943. Grimaldi is a swindler, pretending to be a colonel in the Italian army to get money from the family of people put into jail by the Nazis. Once caught, the Gestapo makes a deal with him : he will stay alive if he impersonates the General Della Rovere, a leader of the Resistance who has just been shot by the Nazis, to be put into a political jail where he is supposed to identify another Resistance leader.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again? Yeah.

This is one of those WWII dramas that's a real slow burn. It's an hour of setup before Grimaldi (De Sica) agrees to impersonate The General. Up to that point he's a scumbag gambler who fleeces innocent people who pay him to use his influence to release their family members from Nazi jail and blows their money on baccarat (card game). Once the Nazis have him, he's a goner unless he helps them out. For the last hour Grimaldi slowly goes through a change that will have dire consequences for himself. It's this character development that's the core of the picture. There's a lot being said in addition to that. It's about patriotism, sense of duty and the price you pay for doing nothing. During WWII there was a turning point where the Nazis and the Italians didn't get along too well and this addresses the issue head on. It's a redemption for those who lived through it and experienced the Nazi's betrayal. ROVERE is an excellent picture with an ending that feels like a kick in the guts. Highly recommended.

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