Sog.: Cesare Zavattini dal romanzo omonimo di Giuseppe Marotta. Scen.: Cesare Zavattini, Giuseppe Marotta, Vittorio De Sica. F.: Carlo Montuori. M.: Eraldo Da Roma. Scgf.: Gastone Medin, Virgilio Marchi. Mus.: Alessandro Cicognini. Su.: Aldo Calpini, Biagio Fiorelli, Bruno Moreal. Int.: Totò (don Saverio Petrillo), Sophia Loren (Sofia), Vittorio De Sica (conte Prospero), Silvana Mangano (Teresa), Eduardo De Filippo (don Ersilio Miccio), Lianella Carell (Carolina), Giacomo Furia (Rosario), Pierino Bilancioni (Gennarino), Erno Crisa (Nicola), Tina Pica (una cliente). Prod.: Dino De Laurentiis, Carlo Ponti per Ponti-De Laurentiis. Pri. pro.: 23 dicembre 1954. 35mm. D.: 132′. Bn.
I will set the film in a very specific strip of Naples, I’ve already decided where: that very picturesque Piazza del Mercato, so out of time, where centuries have passed without any changes whatsoever. Nowhere else, it seems to me, can express that immutable quality of Naples. This is what I must want to accomplish with this film: portray the sense of an eternal Naples, a result of having its roots in a certain behavior that the Neapolitan soul has always assumed facing life; a Naples whose ‘colorfulness’ only hides but doesn’t truly express the Naples so used to the inevitability of destiny, with the forbearance that comes from wisdom, gained from thousands of years of experience and inherent by nature.
Vittorio De Sica, interview by Federico Frascani, La Napoli di Marotta in un film di De Sica, “Il Giornale”, September 15, 1953
In choosing the films to represent Italy at the Cannes Festival, Italian authorities have shown their customary lack of imagination. Only one new Italian film of the last months really merits exhibition abroad and that is De Sica’s L’oro di Napoli.
As this also proving a great box-office success in Italy and boasts some of the best star talent in Italy today, it seems all the more surprising that it should not be sent to Cannes (since it had been requested by the Festival authorities). The fact that Marcel Pagnol has written the French subtitles should also have been a reason for presenting the film.
The reason for this unfortunate decision must be once more of political nature. It is well known that the film did not please shipping magnate Achille Lauro, who is Mayor of Naples and a boss of the Monarchist Party. When De Sica was shooting the film, Lauro even refused to provide policemen to control onlookers in the streets. It is true the film disobeys the rules for the conventional Neapolitan film and also that the Neapolitians themselves do not like it. Yet, strangely enough, the main thing held against the film by serious critics is that it plays up too much to the romantic idea of Naples rather than dealing with the every-day life of its people.
The whole question of Naples on the screen bears closer consideration and I shall be able to do this when I have seen the integral version of De Sica’s film, for the version shown in Italian cinemas lacks the whole episode of Il funeralino which De Sica and Zavattini liked best in their film. This was cut on the instistence of distributors who probably did not expect the film to have such a commercial success (remembering the flop of Umberto D. and other De Sica-Zavattini creations).
From John Francis Lane in Italy, in “Films and Filming”, May 1955
In its representation of Neapolitan ‘civilisation’, the film’s sophisticated construction allows it to achieve its comprehensive ambition – creating a cinematographic sonnet – in which each element contributes to the overall equilibrium and is part of a complete – not fragmented – vision of the city, as opposed to what might be expected from a film structured in episodes. L’oro di Napoli is a synthesis of emotions, of knowledge and of poetry. In certain ways, the film is the quintessential example of the relationship between Zavattini and De Sica: the conceptual genius of the former and the art of mise-en-scene of the latter.
Jean A. Gili, Cinéma retrouvé. L’Or de Naples, “Positif”, January 1994