The recently released Blu-ray of a once rare film that features six short films from some of Italy’s most important post-WW II filmmakers is a must see for Italian film lovers.
In this neo-realist, anti-Hollywood film a narrator reminds us that this story is “not one interpreted by Kirk Douglas and beautiful women like Marilyn Monroe”, but of real people, and for the most part, real people who are suffering and the actual people who the stories are about.
Warning: Most of it is tremendously depressing, just the way the neo-realists like it.
With stories of the poor and the working class, to appreciate L’Amore in Città you have to understand the difficult economic conditions of Italian post-World War II, with poverty, hunger, homelessness affecting everyone. Even those with enough for their own families couldn’t afford to help the less fortunate, and it caused a sort of societal break down that didn’t improve until the economy did.
The first, Amore Che Si Paga, Paid Love was directed by Carlo Lizzani (Il Gobo) and gets the heartbreak started, with Roman prostitutes talking about their work with apathy and indifference that made my heart hurt.
Tentato Suicidio, Attempted Suicide, directed by Michelangelo Antonioni (L’Avventura) women explain the broken promises and failed love affairs that made them want to end their lives.
Paradiso Per Tre Ore, Three Hours of Paradise was directed by Dino Risi (Il Sorpasso) and features girls and guys hooking up in a dance-hall, some more successful than others. This one is goofy fun, with one girl’s mother giving the thumbs up or thumbs down to the men who ask her for a dance, and more than enough testosterone to go around.
My favorite, Agenzia Matrimoniale, Marriage Agency, was directed by Federico Fellini. A journalist goes undercover to a match-making service located in a dilapidated maze of a Roman apartment building. The “Cibele Agency”, run by Signora Cibele, finds husbands for poor girls with no other options, and when the journalist tells her he’s inquiring for a friend who suffers from lycanthropy wolfman syndrome – the Signora sets him up with a nice Italian girl who is quite sure she will be fond of a wolf man.
In Storia di Caterina, Story of Caterina, directed by Cesare Zavattini and Umberto Maselli the real Caterina tells her true story of moving to Rome from Palermo, getting pregnant, losing her job, getting disowned by her family, and then,returning to Rome, getting arrested. Destitute, no hope for a job and with a child she couldn’t feed or put a roof over his head, Caterina’s desperate solution made me feel a little suicidal, but luckily she handled it differently.
Gli Italiani Si Voltano, Italians Turn Their Heads was directed by Alberto Lattuada, who sent beautiful women walking down Roman streets and filmed men, young, old, rich, and poor, practically getting whiplash rubbernecking at them. This is a super fun segment, ending L’Amore in Città on an up note, thank God.