Sog., Scen.: Marco Bellocchio. F.: Alberto Marrama. M.: Aurelio Mangiarotti [Silvano Agosti]. Scgf.: Rosa Sala. Mus.: Ennio Morricone. Int.: Lou Castel (Ale), Paola Pitagora (Giulia), Marino Masè (Augusto), Liliana Gerace (la madre), Pierluigi Troglio (Leone), Jeannie Mac Neil (Lucia), Irene Agnelli (Bruna), Celestina Bellocchio (ragazza alla festa), Stefania Troglio (cameriera), Mauro Martini (bambino). Prod.: Enzo Doria per Doria Cinematografica. DCP. D.: 107’. Bn.
Marco Bellocchio is, or will be, almost certainly a great, possibly even very great, director. Apparently, he is only 25. There is therefore something prodigious about what he has managed to achieve with I pugni in tasca. […] No critic understood it. They all mistook it for a tragic film, when it is actually not just humorous, but downright comic. […] Among Bellocchio’s antecedents I’d like to point to a true writer, who died prematurely and has been forgotten by everyone: Silvio d’Arzo, and his wonderful story Casa d’altri. I point to him not only because, like Bellocchio, d’Arzo comes from Piacenza, nor solely because the story features the same wintery Appenine landscape as the film, but because, underneath it all, both share similar sources of inspiration, albeit truly tragic in the case of d’Arzo and comic, as we have seen, in the case of Bellocchio. What is the source of this inspiration? It is perhaps an oversimplification to characterise it as a ‘physiological desire to end’. […] Someone might ask, “How can a film with such a shocking source of inspiration be comic?”. But it can. For years and years, numerous Italian directors have insisted on shooting films with alienated, strange, half-mad protagonists (occasionally I’ve overhead a member of the general public observing after an Antonioni or Fellini film, “So basically, how should I put it, it’s a case of madness…”). Now, finally, here is a film in which all the characters are mad. All of them, including the one who seemed sane, are truly mad, suitable for institutionalisation. It is an honest, traditional, bourgeois family made up entirely of lunatics: people who are concretely, clinically mad. The comedy arises from the fact that each member of the family, although somewhat aware of their own madness, is so proud of their bourgeois dignity that they never suspect, even for a moment, that they belong in an asylum.
Mario Soldati, “Il Giorno”, 28 December 1965