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Days of Glory: Revisiting Italian Neorealism

Saturday, November 6, 2010
6:30 p.m. Without Pity
Alberto Lattuada (Italy, 1948)

(Senza Pietà). “Only after the battles does the true horror of war emerge,” intones the opening stanzas of this energetic, almost pulpy look at American G.I.’s, mobsters, smugglers, and “bad girls” all looking to survive in the ruins of postwar Italy. The boxcar ride of the down-at-her-heels, not-quite-innocent Lily is interrupted by a sudden gun battle in a passing town, and a surprise visitor to her boxcar: a wounded, African American G.I, Jerry. Their friendship soon blossoms in the ruins of Livorno, a seedy port city run by a white-suited mobster who has his own plans for Lily. Meanwhile, Jerry has issues of his own, especially—in some of the film’s most intriguing moments—the underlying racism of his fellow soldiers. Reminiscent of Imamura’s Pigs and Battleships in its gutter-level vision of urban postwar gangster-civilian-soldier chaos, yet tempered by the more observational strains of Italian neorealism, Without Pity was co-written by Federico Fellini and Tullio Pinelli, and costars Giulietta Masina as Lily’s friend.

—Jason Sanders

• Written by Federico Fellini, Tullio Pinelli. Photographed by Aldo Tonti. With Carla Del Poggio, John Kitzmiller, Giulietta Masina, Pierre Claude. (95 mins, In Italian with electronic English titles, B&W, 35mm, From Cineteca Nazionale)