Sog.: dal racconto “Sinel” di Nikolaj Gogol’; Scen.: Cesare Zavattini, Alberto Lattuada, Giorgio Prosperi, Leonardo Sinisgalli, Giordano Corsi, Enzo Curreli, Luigi Malerba; F.: Mario Montuori; Mo.: Eraldo Da Roma; Scgf.: Gianni Polidori; Cost.: Dario Cecchi; Mu.: Felice Lattuada; Int.: Renato Rascel (Carmine De Carmine), Yvonne Sanson (Caterina), Giu- lio Stival (il sindaco), Antonella Lualdi (Vittoria), Ettore G. Mattia (il segretario generale), Giulio Calì (il sarto), Anna Carena (la padrona di casa); Prod.: Antonio Ansaldo Patti, Enzo Curreli per Faro Film 35mm. D.: 85′. Bn.
Alberto Lattuada occupies a place a little apart, out of the ordinary, in post-war Italian cinema. His formation (he is one of the founders of the Cineteca Italiana), and, even more, his temperament set him in opposition to “Neo-realism” as one normally understands it. Lattuada brings to the form, to the style of the image, and the cutting, his exceptional awareness of the art of cinema. While the majority of Italian films please us by their lyricism, their warmth, their boiling sensibility, or simply their kindliness, those of Lattuada offer us the intelligence of a mise-en- scène which is concerted, lucid, at the edge of coldness. It is perhaps this duality between certain of the themes and methods of Neo-realism and the aesthetic rigour, almost formalist, of his mise-en-scène, which has resulted in Lattuada’s not having yet been justly evaluated by French critics.
(…) I hope in any case that Il cappotto finally reveals the merits of Lattuada to the wider public, as well as the critics. I think that it is due to him, not only because it is the best of his films, but also because the qualities which rebounded against their author in Senza pietà or Il mulino del Po here serve integrally. What might appear too calculated in the direction of dramatic subjects, on the contrary perfectly suits the comic element of this film. Precision and rigour can restrain emotion, but they multiply the effectiveness of irony and satire. It even seems to me that Lattuada ought to continue on this path.
His adaptation of Gogol’s story [“The Overcoat”] is exemplary in its intelligence. He has succeeded, in a free treatment, in maintaining the spirit of the original while transferring it to a half- imaginary, almost Kafkaesque Italy. The film’s success will equally be due to the sensational performance of Rascel, whose character clearly owes much to Chaplin, but without that influence ever seeming like plagiarism.
André Bazin, “Il Cappotto,” Cahiers du Cinéma, no. 13, June 1952