Italian film poster
|Directed by||Dino Risi|
|Produced by||Mario Cecchi Gori|
|Written by||Dino Risi
|Starring||Vittorio Gassman: Bruno Cortona
Jean-Louis Trintignant: Roberto Mariani
Catherine Spaak: Lilli Cortona
Claudio Gora: Bibi
Luciana Angiolillo: Bruno's wife
Linda Sini: Aunt Lidia
Nando Angelini: Amedeo
Luigi Zerbinati: commendatore
|Music by||Riz Ortolani|
|Edited by||Maurizio Lucidi|
22 December 1963 (U.S.)
It's a hazy, dreamy, sun-baked and seemingly empty Rome on an August morning. A young, timid law student, Roberto (Trintignant), gazing out his window, is asked for trivial favor by a 40-ish man named Bruno (Gassman), who is passing on the street below at the wheel of a convertible Lancia Aurelia: Could he please make a phone call for him?
The young man tells him to come up and make the call himself. After Bruno fails to contact his friends — after all, he's running a full hour late for his meeting with them — he insists on repaying Roberto's courtesy with a drink. Tired of studying for the day and falling prey to Bruno's enthusiasm, the young man accepts.
Thus begins a cruise along the Via Aurelia, the Roman road that also gives the name to Bruno's beloved car. Roberto is unwilling or unable to part from this casual acquaintance despite having almost nothing in common with him. Bruno is loud, direct, risk taking, a bit coarse and a braggart, to boot. He drives recklessly, speeding and constantly attempting "il Sorpasso" — the impatient and aggressive practice of serial tailgating and honking to overtake other cars on the road. But he is also charming and likable. And Roberto, his complete opposite, feels drawn to Bruno's impulsive, devil-may-care attitude.
Over two days of highs and lows across the coasts of Lazio and Tuscany, the two men fall into various adventures while gradually managing to learn something of each other. When, for example, the duo spontaneously drops in on Roberto's relatives, en route, the young law student suddenly realizes that his childhood wasn't as golden as he'd always imagined. And later he finds out about Bruno's failed marriage and young daughter, revealing a life not nearly as carefree as Bruno pretends to lead.
When this free-wheeling road-trip movie crescendos to its dramatic ending, the bonding and emerging friendship between the two men is cut short. Spurred on by a seemingly transformed Roberto, Bruno speeds while attempting to overtake another car on the blind curve of a cliffside road. This risky maneuver results in a fatal accident. The younger man goes over a rocky cliff in the car, leaving a bloodied and shocked Bruno on the curve's edge. When a motorway cop arrives and asks Bruno for Roberto's last name, the survivor realizes he doesn't even know it.
The movie is considered one of the best Commedie all'Italiana, offering a poignant portrait of Italy in the early 1960s when the "economic miracle" (dubbed the "boom" — using the actual English word — by the local media) was starting to transform the country from a traditionally agricultural and family-centered society into a shallower, individualistic and consumeristic one.
The soundtrack includes Italian 1960s hits such as "Saint Tropez Twist" by Peppino di Capri, Quando, Quando, Quando performed by Emilio Pericoli, "Guarda come dondolo" and "Pinne Fucile ed Occhiali" by Edoardo Vianello and "Vecchio frac" by Domenico Modugno.
- Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists Nastro d'Argento
- Winner: Best Actor (Migliore Attore Protagonista)- Vittorio Gassman
- Mar de Plata Film Festival
- Winner: Best Director- Dino Risi