Sog.: Suso Cecchi D’Amico, Piero Tellini, Luigi Zampa. Scen.: Suso Cecchi D’Amico, Aldo Fabrizi, Piero Tellini, Luigi Zampa. F.: Carlo Montuori, Gábor Pogány. Ass. op.: Giuseppe Rotunno. M.: [Eraldo Da Roma]. Scgf.: Ivo Battelli. Mus.: Nino Rota. Int.: Aldo Fabrizi (zio Tigna), Gar Moore (Ronald), Mirella Monti (Silvia), John Kitzmiller (Joe), Heinrich Bode (Hans), Ave Ninchi (Corinna), Nando Bruno (segretario del fascio), Aldo Silvani (medico), Ernesto Almirante (nonno), Gino Cavalieri (parroco). Prod.: Carlo Ponti per Lux-Pao. DCP. Bn.
Neorealism takes the form of a goodhearted comedy that revisits recent tragic events, moving from the city to an idyllic rural world, but one that has its dark side too. In a village in the Apennines at the end of the war, Uncle Tigna (Fabrizi), a farmer, hides two soldiers in his home, one of whom is black. The old man helps the two fugitives not for the sake of justice or freedom but because they “have a family”. He finds himself caught between the suspicions of a fascist official, the cautious support of a socialist doctor and the cautiousness of the parish priest.
“Zampa’s rural small town is peaceful, humanitarian, tolerant and not racist; and the tolerance towards Joe, the black soldier, is all the more surprising since the character, regardless of his race, acts like a total idiot. Fabrizi is the symbol of a small-world Italy imagined originally by Guareschi, a benevolent curmudgeon straight out of a 19th-century comedy. He is the film’s ideological core: the Italian who wants to live in peace and does not understand human cruelty, without realising that he comes from a different historical time and the limits of his perspective are shaped by another era. Fabrizi (who is also rightfully credited as co-screenwriter) is a director within each image, imposing his acting pace on the découpage. Shots and editing are adapted to his movements, his wide, open-eyed looks and mumbling. As befits a theatre legend, he is given a final close-up, a lengthy and melodramatic death scene” (Alberto Pezzotta, Ridere civilmente. Il cinema di Luigi Zampa, Edizioni Cineteca di Bologna 2012).