Renato Castellani

Sog.: dal romanzo Via delle Mantellate (1953) di Isa Mari. Scen.: Suso Cecchi d’Amico, Renato Castellani. F.: Leonida Barboni. M.: Jolanda Benvenuti. Scgf.: Ottavio Scotti. Mus.: Roman Vlad. Int.: Anna Magnani (Egle), Giulietta Masina (Lina), Cristina Gajoni (Marietta), Renato Salvatori (Piero), Saro Urzì (il maresciallo), Umberto Spadaro (il direttore del carcere), Alberto Sordi (Antonio ‘Adone’), Anita Durante (Assunta). Prod.: Giuseppe Amato per Riama Film, Francinex. 35mm. D.: 105’. Bn.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

Adapted from a non-fiction novel, Isa Mari’s Via delle Mantellate, and based on screenwriter Suso Cecchi d’Amico’s meticulous documentation, this film is Castellani’s digression into raw realism. Here he contends with an ensemble of female characters in a Roman prison: Egle (Magnani), a hardened prostitute; Lina (Masina), a wrongly convicted, frightened maid; Marietta (Gaioni), a remorseful girl in love with a boy she sees from a window. Under Egle’s direction, Lina wises up, but she is also transformed by Marietta. A clash between the acting styles of Giulietta Masina and a domineering Anna Magnani (“she came onto the film with the voracity of a lion”, said Castellani), surrounded by amateur actresses, including actual ex-prisoners. The Cineteca Nazionale’s copy, which is quite different from the one seen on television and DVD, contains the director’s original cut with several additional sequences and a very different scene order, especially in the last part.

Emiliano Morreale


To make Nella città l’inferno, I spent a lot of time with thieves and they were very nice, nothing like the thieves of today. Back then we conducted a lot of research when preparing a film, so if it did not turn out well, then it was our own fault. So, I began with the autobiography of a female thief who had been in prison; then I started to look at prisons, to ask for permission, to find these thieves. I visited prisons and spent a lot of time there. The thieves were the last real professionals and when some of my friends were later the victims of theft, I asked for their help. In a few minutes it was all sorted and they got their goods back; you told them what had happened, how it happened, and in what area and they immediately knew who did it, because they recognised the touch… Years later when I called them after a theft they said: “Lady, we’ve retired. They are all amateurs, unskilled workers, drug addicts and the like. We don’t know anything any more about the jobs they pull.”

Suso Cecchi d’Amico, in Scrivere il cinema. Suso Cecchi d’Amico, edited by Orio Caldiron and Matilde Hochkofler, Edizioni Dedalo, Bari 1988

Copy From

courtesy of RTI Mediaset