T. alt.: La notte porta consiglio. Sog.: Ennio Flaiano. Scen.: Ennio Flaiano, Suso Cecchi D’Amico, Cesare Zavattini, Marcello Pagliero, Marcello Marchesi, Filippo Mercati [Luigi Filippo D’Amico]. F.: Aldo Tonti. M.: Giuliana Attenni. Scgf.: Gastone Medin. Mus.: Nino Rota. Int.: Nando Bruno (il ladro), Valentina Cortese (la ragazza), Andrea Checchi (il giovane), Vittorio De Sica (il signore distinto), Francesco Grandjaquet (il padrone della bisca), Ennio Flaiano (il questurino), Gar Moore (il soldato americano), Camillo Mastrocinque (l’aristocratico). Prod.: Marcello D’Amico (dir. prod.: Silvio D’Amico) per Pao Film. 35mm. D.: 81’. Bn.
Roma città libera is a comedy about the disenchantment of life in Rome in the aftermath of the World War II. Introducing an ironic or bitter note, Pagliero’s characterizes his leading players as two young people driven to contemplate suicide and prostitution because they are impoverished. After many twists and turns, they end up falling for each other and discovering altogether different outlets for their despair.
The film was made shortly after the liberation of Rome. Though the opening credits do refer to “Rome, 1945”, it remained mysteriously unreleased until 1948. The tone confirms Pagliero’s unusual approach to filmmaking in the context of Italian postwar cinema. The plot is condensed into a single night and involves an unlikely range of characters including an elegant thief, played by Nando Bruno (the only time in a prolific career that this actor was given a protagonist’s role). In the opening credits, Nando Bruno’s name comes top of the cast list, above Andrea Checchi and Valentina Cortese, the two unemployed leads. The rest of the cast includes a startling composition by Vittorio De Sica who dreamily rambles on about botany and blossoms when meant to be delivering a political speech in a tuxedo. There is also a gangster who runs an illegal gambling club (Francesco Granjaquet, fresh from his part in Rome, Open City); a bizarre cop played by Ennio Flaiano; and Gar Moore in the role of a GI painting the town red. The latter was soon to play another American soldier in Rossellini’s Paisà and act in Luigi Zampa’s 1947 Vivere in pace. Finally, Camillo Mastrocinque plays the epitome of an aristocrat. None of these characters are provided with names. They are designed to represent functions or age-groups: a young man, a thief, a girl, a distinguished gentleman, an American and so on. By the end of the story, when the two protagonists find they actually inhabit the same building, the whole production acquires a faint Paul-Fejos’ Lonesome-like quality.