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Days of Glory: Revisiting Italian Neorealism

Saturday, October 2, 2010
6:30 p.m. Teresa Venerdi
Vittorio De Sica (Italy, 1941)

(a.k.a. Doctor Beware). While best known for his neorealist classics like The Bicycle Thief, Vittorio De Sica began and ended his career as the maker of breezy, commercial entertainments spanning all genres: comedies, spy thrillers, romances, and more. “A romantic screwball comedy of the first rank,” (New York Times), the rare Teresa Venerdi offers us a chance to see De Sica “let his hair down,” so to speak, as both director and actor (he was a Cary Grant–like leading man for much of the ’30s). Here he stars as a lecherous doctor on the make with various patients, specifically the showgirl played by Anna Magnani. His skirt chasing is soon hobbled by the appearance of a doe-eyed young orphan (of course), who falls for him, too. “More RKO programmer than Paramount roadshow,” (Stephen Harvey), Teresa Venerdi (released as “Doctor Beware” in the United States) offers a wonderful glimpse of pre-war Italian romantic comedy, and also of De Sica’s talents in all realms.

—Jason Sanders

• Written by Gherardo Gherardi, Franco Riganti, De Sica, Margherita Maglione, based on a novel by Rudolf Torok. Photographed by Vincenzo Seratrice. With Adriana Benetti, Vittorio De Sica, Irasema Dilian, Anna Magnani. (94 mins, In Italian with English subtitles, B&W, 35mm, From Cinecittà Luce S.p.A)