Sog.: Alfredo Giannetti. Scen.: Pietro Germi, Alfredo Giannetti, Luciano Vincenzoni. F.: Leonida Barboni. M.: Dolores Tamburini. Mus.: Carlo Rustichelli. Scgf.: Carlo Egidi. Int.: Pietro Germi (Andrea Marcocci), Luisa Della Noce (Sara, moglie di Andrea), Sylva Koscina (Giulia), Saro Urzì (Gigi Liverani), Carlo Giuffrè (Renato Borghi), Renato Speziali (Marcello Marcocci), Edoardo Nevola (Sandrino Marcocci), Antonio Acqua, Mirella Fedeli, Franco Fantasia. Prod.: Carlo Ponti per Carlo Ponti Cinematografica, Excelsa Film. DCP. D.: 116’. Bn.
Germi was a troublesome director – anti-fascist, anti-communist, often arrogant and hot tempered – and his entire oeuvre was misinterpreted by the critics of the time who were also wrong-footed by Il ferroviere. Germi had just made a series of commercial failures and he was looking for a new subject. He was very taken with an unpublished story by a young communist screenwriter, Alfredo Giannetti, which centred on a workman and his family. The producer, Carlo Ponti, did not believe in the project and, in order to delay its realisation, suggested a series of unsuitable actors for the lead character including Spencer Tracy and Broderick Crawford. It was Giannetti who realised that Germi wanted to play the role himself and was capable of doing so, and he was the one who directed Germi in the screen test that finally convinced Ponti.
With Nastro d’argento awards for both director and producer, Il ferroviere was a big hit, in smaller towns even more so than in big cities. The public was struck by the sincerity of the film, which closely mirrored Italy at the time: a Rome undergoing a construction boom in which recreational spaces for children gave way to new buildings and wages were inadequate; strikes, scabs and union leaders who wouldn’t listen; a society in which salvation resided solely in a sense of belonging to a timeless world of ordinary people, in which one’s roots and emotional ties provided the strength to face up to the dramas of life…
A choral work on the passing of time, it was supposed to be titled Un giorno e tutti i giorni [One Day and Every Day] because it told of “the slow passage of time and the bitter, tender, dramatic and sweet meaning of life”. It is probably the most musical film in Italian cinema, with a soundtrack by Carlo Rustichelli that supports the emotional flow of the events. Germi systematically uses ellipses and rhythmically exploits two different narrative points of view
– that of Sandrino, which sweetens the bitterness of the events, and that of the narrator, which conversely dramatizes them. The film’s greatness lies in the fact that, in narrating the changes Italy was undergoing and coming to terms with the neorealist tradition, Germi renders a universal story.
Gian Luca Farinelli, in Enciclopedia del Cinema, Treccani, Rome 2004
Restored in 4K in 2023 by Cineteca di Bologna in collaboration with Surf Film at L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory. Funding provided by Ministero della Cultura with an additional contribution of “A Season of Classic Films”, an initiative of ACE – Association des Cinémathèques Européennes, supported by the EU Creative Europe MEDIA programme