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Roma, Città Aperta

Rome, Open City

Italy 1945
produced by
Giuseppe Amato, Ferruccio De Martino, Rod E. Geiger, Roberto Rossellini for Excelsa Film
directed by Roberto Rossellini
starring Aldo Fabrizi, Anna Magnani, Marcello Pagliero, Vito Annichiarico, Nando Bruno, Harry Feist, Giovanna Galletti, Francesco Grandjacquet, Maria Michi, Carla Rovere, Carlo Sindici, Joop van Hulzen, Ákos Tolnay, Turi Pandolfini, Amalia Pellegrini, Alberto Tavazzi
story by Sergio Amidei, Alberto Consiglio, screenplay by Sercio Amidei, Federico Fellini, music by Renzo Rossellini

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Rome, 1944: The city is occupied by the Germans, but the Italians have long built up a network against their Nazi oppressors, which SS major Bergmann (Harry Feist) now tends to smash, and he has long made out Giorgio Manfredi (Marcello Pagliero) as one of the key figures of resistance, but Manfredi is to experienced to play sitting duck for the Nazis, and after making a rooftop escape when the Germans are already knocking on his door, he hides out at his friend Francesco (Francesco Grandjacquet), a seemingly harmless printer who plans to marry his pregnant girlfrient Pina (Anna Magnani) the very next day. Manfredi's mission meanwhile is completed by father Pietro (Aldo Fabrizi), a priest sympathetic to the resistance's cause who is also going to marry Francesco to Pina.

Then though, the house where Francesco and Pina live is raided by the Germans, and while Manfredi manages to get away, Francesco isn't that lucky, and when Pina attacks the German soldiers in a fit of rage because of it, she is brutally gunned down. Francesco though is later freed by the resistance when  the truck transporting him to prison is lured into an ambush.

Francesco meets up with Manfredi, and the two of them hide out at Marina's (Maria Michi) place, Manfredi's actress girlfriend. But then Marina and Manfredi get into a fight, and to have her revenge on him, she phones Ingrid (Giovanna Galletti), her friend who provides her with drugs and is also the assistant of Major Bergmann, to blow the whistle on Manfredi.

Francesco manages to evade arrest, but Manfredi is captured, and so is father Pietro, who has long been suspected by the Germans and only evaded them so far because of his profession. Questioning Manfredi is pointless though, he rather dies under torture than spilling the beans. When Marina is brought in and sees his corpse, she breaks down - and mercilessly, the Germans throw her into prison.

Father Pietro, who hasn't told the Germans a thing as well, is publicly executed to serve as an example, but that execution doesn't go quite as planned because half of the gunmen refuse to shoot a priest, and the only audience that comes to the execution are the children he has taken care of all those years - children who want to give him comfort in his final hour ... and who have long fomred a resistance movement of their own, blowing up arms depots with great regularity and without ever being suspected.

 

One of the cornerstones of Italian neorealismo, Rome, Open City was released only months after the end of the German occupation, filmed on authentic locations in the streets of Rome in authentic costumes with a mostly amateur cast, based on a script (almost) torn from contemporary headlines (even though the plot as such was pure fiction).

This all doesn't say anything about the quality of the film though, many often pathetic no budget movies claim pretty much the same thing. Still, Rome, Open City is a masterpiece, one of the few films that successfully marries contemporary politics with melodrama without becoming a message movie, that combines many little episodes to one big story and that doesn't forget to flesh out its characters (even the lesser ones) when telling a tale of political relevance.

In short, a masterpiece.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD