Tuesday, May 26, 2015
The late Francesco Rosi, deemed “the poet of civic courage” for such films as Salvatore Giuliano and Hands Over the City, directed this gritty account of displacement and life in the urban margins. Mario (Renato Salvatori of Rocco and His Brothers), a Tuscan laborer, arrives in Hanover, Germany, in search of work. He soon falls in with a gang of crooked cloth peddlers (“magliari”) led by the charismatic Totonno (screen legend Alberto Sordi in a standout performance), who takes Mario under his wing. Complications ensue when Totonno moves the outfit to Hamburg, where they clash with a rival Polish operation and Mario takes up with a powerful industrialist’s wife (English actress Belinda Lee, who died tragically two years later). Rosi’s genre hybrid explores the abuse of immigrant workers in ways that recall his avowed influences—American social-realist directors Jules Dassin and Elia Kazan.