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Friday, December 19, 2014

La Legge (aka The Law) (1959)

In a small Italian fishing village, several stories unfold: a free spirited if amoral girl (Gina Lollobrigida) sets her sights on the handsome engineer (Marcello Mastroianni) sent to clean up the marshes, an unhappily married woman (Melina Mercouri) plots to leave her husband for a younger man (Raf Mattioli), the sadistic crime boss (Yves Montand) fights to hold on to his power while the town's patriarch (Pierre Brasseur) finds his health failing him. An Italian/French co-production directed by Jules Dassin (NIGHT AND THE CITY), this tale of passions running wild, hypocritical facades and power struggles is a riveting melodrama where the tension slowly builds, eventually paying big dividends. Lollobrigida and Mastroianni provide the sex appeal while Mercouri and Montand provide the acting and Dassin firmly holds everything together with a sharp and focused eye toward its satisfying denouement. With its powerhouse cast, you'd think the film would be better known but too few have seen it. Released in the U.S. with cuts as WHERE THE HOT WIND BLOWS. With Paolo Stoppa and Vittorio Caprioli.

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