That’s it! I’m done!
No more Italian neo-realism for this girl. The story of Jerry and Angela put me over the edge of my emotional endurance. My dealbreaker is 1948’s “Without Pity” or “Senza Pietà” ( in Italian ) directed by Alberto Lattuada. He’s directed a slew of Italian films I’ve never heard of. But me never hearing of them means absolutely nothing. Seeing this one shows me he has command of storytelling. He has 40/41 credits to his name as writer and director and knows how to tear you apart in the most un-treacly of ways.
In “Without Pity”-before life intervenes, Jerry and Angela have a nice moment without a care in the world. Jerry’s a U.S. soldier stationed in Italy. Angela is a girl with no money or resources and searching for her brother. Circumstances put them in each other’s lives, in a “meet cute” NOT way, and when they meet again, Jerry takes Angela to a carnival. They go on rides, have coffee and pastry. He shares the wealth with street urchins. By date’s end they laugh and relax and are happily exhausted as he walks her home.
This story takes place during the war…or near the end of the war where life is hard. Every one is on the take. Black marketing bad guys get rich, poor girls sell themselves, MPs
boss everyone around. Angela gets caught up in a situation beyond her control. Jerry, through mishaps and misunderstandings, gets caught by MPs. Life is very unfair and doesn’t end well for them. “Without Pity” is a compelling story of a man and woman each, in their own, way trapped by circumstances. It’s almost what I would call War Noir because even under conditions of war, the fates just won’t give these two kids a break. This couple’s lives swirls in a dark, downward spiral.
My heart was broken by the end of this. I’m done. No more bitter rice even with the mighty Mangano. No more Magnani or stolen bikes or notti bianches or cabirias…or little dogs and old men. Give me Sophia and Marcello or Laura Antonelli. I need a 60’s Italian comedy…STAT!!! I don’t mind sad endings, but hopeless ones…my achin’ heart can’t take it.
See…this…movie. I dare you.
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Life imitates art a bit when American Kitzmiller stays in Europe after the war to avoid American racism and makes a career for himself in films. Yeah, you know him. If you’ve ever seen the 1962 James Bond “Dr. No.” you know the raspy-voiced actor.
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