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Saturday, May 21, 2016

La Pelle (1981)

In 1943, the American Allies liberate Naples from German occupation but there's a clash between the yanks and the native population. Based on a series of short stories by Curzio Malaparte (played in the film by Marcello Mastroianni) that documented the "liberation" by the Americans which seems more like a second invasion and the ignoble breakdown of Italian morality. Directed by Liliana Cavani (THE NIGHT PORTER), no one comes out looking good. Certainly not the Americans who often seem no better than the Germans and certainly not the Italians reduced to the most barbaric behavior due to the war. Cavani really pushes our faces in the blood red mud here, nothing is held back. Cannibalism, mothers selling their sons to Arabs for sex, animal cruelty, American contempt for the very people they're liberating and blood and guts literally spilling out among other horrors. Could it really have been as awful as all that? The film's most ill conceived character is a female U.S. Colonel (Alexandra King) though the first female Colonel in the U.S. Army didn't come until 1947! It would have helped if the Americans spoke English instead of being dubbed into Italian because we get an American dubbed into Italian asking an Italian to translate into English what another Italian is saying and the Italian "translates" the Italian into Italian! With Burt Lancaster, Claudia Cardinale (wasted), Ken Marshall, Jacques Sernas and Liliana Tari. 

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