In this war comedy that takes place in Italy during WW II, Gassman must enlist in the army in exchange for a pardon of criminal charges against him. He meets Sordi at the enlistment center and tries unsuccessfully to bribe the man into giving him a deferment. The two later meet on a
transport train and combine their wits to escape duties. After a prostitute steals Gassman's wallet, he spends the next day in a bloody battle on the front. When he and Sordi are sent to town for more supplies, Gassman confronts the prostitute once more. He gets his wallet back but falls in love
in the process. The two soldiers don't want to go back to the terrible battle, so they spend the night in town. But when they awake in the morning, they find their company has been wiped out and the town now regards them as heroes. The two regain a sense of loyalty and decide to go back to the
war. They are sent on a special mission to deliver a message but are captured by Austrians. After refusing to give up any information to the enemy, Gassman and Sordi are both killed. Their commanding officer, not surprised by their long absence, assumes they have once more pulled off a scam. The
comical beginning that leads to a tragic end is similar to WHAT PRICE GLORY?, though the earlier film was much better and far more even-handed than this one. Oscar-nominated for Best Foreign-Language Film.
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