Godfather of Italian neo-realism Roberto Rossellini’s affair with Ingrid Bergman won him many enemies, but he had a return to critical/commercial favour with this powerful wartime drama.
He cast old mucker Vittorio de Sica (director of Bicycle Thieves) as Bardone, a conman who works on the families of those arrested by the Gestapo; arrested himself, he’s forced to impersonate a Resistance leader to spy for the Nazis.
De Sica is so charming as the dignified hustler that when his redemption arrives, it’s a hugely stirring moment.
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