A handsomely mounted period piece, this overstuffed Italian mini-series reveals everything you ever wanted to know about Il Duce’s relatives -- and then some.
According to Bruno Guerri, on whose biography of Count Galeazzo Ciano -- who married Benito Mussolini's eldest daughter and replaced Il Duce as Italy's Foreign Minister in 1936 -- the alliance between Mussolini and Adolf Hitler was shakier than is widely believed. Hitler (Kurt Raab) maintained the upper hand and stroked Mussolini’s ego when necessary; in 1939, gobbling up European nations didn’t require the Italian dictator's approval, only his military support. This cavalier treatment bothered Ciano (Anthony Hopkins),
who married to Mussolini’s beloved daughter, Edda (Susan Sarandon). But Ciano had few fans in Berlin and one big detractor at home, in the person of
mother-in-law Rachele Mussolini (Annie Giradot). Ciano diplomatically warned his father-in-law that he had become Der Fuhrer’s pawn and later advised Mussolini to forge a separate peace with the Allies. Ignoring Ciano’s prescient advice, Mussolini tried to fend off a coup by Italy’s King Vittorio Emmanuel (Marne Maitland) and when Ciano falls into German custody, Edda’s pleas for mercy fall on deaf ears. But Edda has squirreled away Ciano’s journals and is prepared to blackmail German and Italian hot-shots to save Ciano’s life. Edda kept these diaries hidden in exile, and when she learned that she couldn't use them to save Ciano from the firing squad, she turned them over to the Allies at the end of WWII.
If only the stars sounded as authentic as the sets and costumes look! Not only do the cast's different nationalities -- English Hoskins, French Giradot, American Sarandon -- destroy any sense of familial verisimilitude, but Hopkins is in full-on hambone mode. His scenery chewing is frightening to behold.
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- Released: 1985
- Rating: NR
- Review: A handsomely mounted period piece, this overstuffed Italian mini-series reveals everything you ever wanted to know about Il Duce’s relatives -- and then some. According to Bruno Guerri, on whose biography of Count Galeazzo Ciano -- who married Benito M… (more)