Curated by Emiliano Morreale

Many of Pietro Germi’s films have achieved international success and are considered classics of Italian cinema. Divorzio all’italiana was nominated for three Oscars, winning one for Best Original Screenplay. At Cannes, where he competed seven times, Germi won the Palme d’Or with Signore e signori (The Birds, the Bees and the Italians) and the Best Actor Award for Saro Urzì in Sedotta e abbandonata. In nome della legge was one of the few true public successes of neorealist cinema. Despite this, the director’s standing has experienced ups and downs and long-lasting aversions, perhaps due to his ideological stance (sympathising with the small Italian Social Democratic Party, unaffiliated with the Catholic-Communist divide), his gruff demeanour and certainly his later works, which were tired and resentful of changing society.
Germi’s films often sparked controversy and public discussion, ran afoul of censorship (Gioventù perduta) and even caused parliamentary debates (In nome della legge). They were fiercely criticised by the right and the left and tackled the most regressive aspects of Italian legislation (honour killings, shotgun weddings). Yet, Germi’s cinema endures, not because he catered to cinephiles, but due to the strength and sophistication of his directing. Germi was an “American-style” filmmaker who consciously chose genres as a means of communicating with audiences.
From his first two films, true neorealist noirs, to two “Italian westerns” like In nome della legge (the first film to address the mafia) and Il brigante di Tacca del Lupo (The Bandit of Tacca del Lupo), Germi would go on to produce some of the finest examples of Italian comedy. Between these phases of his career, he made a gangster movie (La città si difende), a detective film (Un maledetto imbroglio, based on Quer pasticciaccio brutto de via Merulana, a novel seemingly impossible to translate to the screen) and a couple of male melodramas in which he starred: Il ferroviere and L’uomo di paglia (A Man of Straw), both poignant portraits of men from a bygone era. By working with different genres, Germi managed to present a coherent vision of society and humanity – sometimes absurd, sometimes disenchanted, but never cynical.
A perfectionist deeply attentive to scripts, directing actors (who excelled as an actor himself) and directorial style, it is no surprise that Germi is greatly admired by fellow directors, both Italian and international, from Martin Scorsese to Wes Anderson.

Emiliano Morreale