This odd Italian-Yugoslavian obscurity by the otherwise estimable Nanni Loy (WHERE'S PICONE?, CAFE EXPRESS), which looks as though it was photographed through blue-tinted mud, must have been a busman's holiday for American stars Peter Falk, Jason Robards and Martin Landau. A very uneasy mixture of WWII black comedy and neorealist drama, the rambling story finds Italian POW Rosolino Paterno (Chaplinesque Italian comedy great Nino Manfredi, Loy's frequent star) pressed into helping a secret squad of eccentric Yank
soldiers blow up the cannons at a fortress guarding his Sicilian hometown. The squad, led by the half-mad, gung-ho Capt. Pawney (Falk), consists of a demolitionist (Robards) with a sadistic laugh and a need for anger management, a radio operator (Landau), and an All-American golden-boy (Hylands). When the captain is unexpectedly killed in a parachute accident an occurance which feels, whether or not this is actually the case, like an invention necessitated by the director's having had a limited time committment from Falk the remaining four find themselves stranded on Mount Aetna, 60 miles from their objective, and forced to proceed with no official help or acknowledgment. Their path takes them to an Italian train, which they're forced to flee when the Allies bomb it; past an encampment of Germans soldiers; to a dentist; to a cafe where they're discovered by more Germans and chased, with fatal results for one; to the home of Paterno's half-starved girlfriend and their infant; and finally to the fortress. There they learn there are no cannons and that their mission was a sham designed to misdirect the enemy. Paterno, knowing that an aerial attack on the fortress would also take out the town, convinces the remaining two soldiers to blow up the fortress and thus remove it as a target. Though dubbed into Chico Marx English in the direct-to-video U.S. release, Manfredi still manages to evoke a stoic, everyman humanity throughout this messy attempt at military irony; the American stars (including Slim Pickens, a long way from DR. STRANGELOVE) are cartoon caricatures. The score includes weirdly jaunty big-band music as civilians are killed while fleeing the bombed train. Call it all a bad mish-M*A*S*H.
Cast & Details See all »
- Rating: NR
- Review: This odd Italian-Yugoslavian obscurity by the otherwise estimable Nanni Loy (WHERE'S PICONE?, CAFE EXPRESS), which looks as though it was photographed through blue-tinted mud, must have been a busman's holiday for American stars Peter Falk, Jason Robards a… (more)