Scen.: Age e Scarpelli, Mario Monicelli. F.: Giuseppe Rotunno. M.: Ruggero Mastroianni. Scgf.: Mario Garbuglia. Mus.: Carlo Rustichelli. Int.: Marcello Mastroianni (professor Sinigaglia), Renato Salvatori (Raul), Annie Girardot (Niobe), Gabriella Giorgelli (Adele), Folco Lulli (Pautasso), Bernard Blier (Martinetti), Raffaella Carrà (Bianca), François Périer (Di Meo), Vittorio Sanipoli (cavalier Baudet), Mario Pisu (l’ingegnere). Prod.: Franco Cristaldi per Lux Film, Vides Cinematografica, Avala Film, Méditerranée-Cinéma Production DCP. D.: 130’. Bn.
As usual my interest centred around the story of a group of people planning an undertaking beyond their abilities. […] At that time a reactionary climate reigned in Italy. Strikes were considered on the edge of legality. I, however, was interested in placing the problem in a more urgent and less current context, when the rights at stake regarded working conditions that tested the limits of human endurance. The fight for reducing factory work hours from fourteen to thirteen. Prohibiting children under the age of nine from working. Issues with a universal value that went beyond the present. […] People look for specific references to politics, when instead I was interested in the story of this group of workers who were unprepared yet keen to understand and ready to mobilize, and who during over thirty days of striking gain a more powerful awareness of defeat. […] It is hard to lighten things up in a context like this. I believe the characters’ affability and attention to humorous implications were fundamental. […] I am very pleased with the balance achieved. There are lots of characters, several of which have very little space, and yet each one emerges with the right emphasis. And then there is Mastroianni at his best. Moderate in his excesses, human even if concealing a kind of egotism. […] The talented actor showed up on the set ready to take in whatever was around him. He fully formed his idea of the character while filming. That was one of Mastroianni’s qualities. After reading the script, he contemplated his character and learned the gist of his lines. Then, as soon as he was on the set, he looked around himself and, after rehearsing just two or three times, immediately got into the part. […] Mastroianni’s strength was absorbing a character without showing it. Indolence became a virtue with him and elevated his allure.
Mario Monicelli, La commedia umana. Conversazioni con Mario Monicelli, Sebastiano Mondadori (ed.), il Saggiatore, Milan 2005