Friday, April 12, 2013

184. Paisa/Paisan (1946)

Running Time: 123 minutes
Directed By: Roberto Rossellini
Written By: Sergio Amidei, Federico Fellini
Main Cast: Carmela Sazio, Robert Van Loon, Dots Johnson, Alfonsino Pasca, Maria Michi


After my less than impressed opinions of "Open City", it's understandable that I was hesitant going into "Paisan" - Rossellini's second feature from THE BOOK. However, this time around the results weren't nearly as abysmal.

"Paisan" is broken up into six episodes, each set in a different Italian city and each dealing with the Americans involvement in World War II, on the Italian home front. Here is a breakdown of each episode:

Episode 1: An American patrol lands in Sicily and happen upon a church, where a group of Italians are hiding out. One of the Americans speaks Italian and finds out that a German patrol recently left the area, leaving a minefield in their wake. One of the Italians, Carmela (Sazio), agrees to guide them. When they get to an acceptable hideout area, they leave Carmela and another solider, Joe (Van Loon) behind. While left alone, Joe and Carmela try their best to communicate, despite not knowing each others languages.

Episode 2: Set in Naples, a young boy befriends a drunken, African American member of the American Military Police. When the drunk MP falls asleep, the boy steals his shoes. Later, the MP reunites with the boy and demands his shoes back. Yeah...that's pretty much it.

Episode 3: Set in Rome and perhaps the best of the six episodes (either this or the first, for sure), Episode 3 tells the story of a prostitute named Francesca who picks up an American soldier named Fred. Once back at her place, Fred tells Francesca of a girl he spent some time with six months prior, whom he loved. It turns out that the girl he spent the time with WAS Francesca.

Episode 4: American nurse Harriet and partisan Massimo take a dangerous trip through a small town in Florence, looking for a former painter and current leader of the partisans, Lupo.

Episode 5: A group of three American chaplains are welcomed into a Roman-Catholic monastery. When the monks find out that one of chaplains is Jewish and another is Protestant, they are more than a little turned off.

Episode 6: Probably the worst episode, but maybe just because I was ready for it all to be over...I don't know. This one has the most action is set in the midst of battle, as a company of partisans are murdered, despite attempts to save them by a British company. Also probably the most violent of the six episodes.

So, maybe it was the fact that the film was segmented into six sections, thus giving the viewer six opportunities to find something that appealed to them or maybe it was just a flat out better film than "Open City", but I enjoyed this one loads more than the former Rossellini offering. I highly enjoyed Episodes 1 & 3 and I'd even say that 2 & 4 were pretty good. 5 was decent and 6 was, by far, the worst. Rossellini continues his neorealist exploration of World War II, using non-professional and professional actors to tell his six stories. Once again, I'm surprised that Fellini had anything to do with this. If I recall correctly, none of the seven Fellini offerings from THE BOOK, where he served as director, had anything to do with the war - World War II or otherwise. Let's keep this review on the short side today, since I don't want to be accused of babbling. Let's call this a mild success, a lot better than "Open City" and a definite step in the right direction for "Rossellini Week".

RATING: 6/10  Not great or anything, just sort of languishing there in the dead zone. But compared to "Open City" it was a big win and now I don't have to dread those final two Rossellini pictures quite as much. Next up for "Rossellini Week": "Europa 51".


April 12, 2013  4:33pm


  1. This is one I have without subtitles.. but I allowed myself the tick as so much was in English anyway, and the rest, with limited German, and educated guesses at the Italian from my even more limited French, I found fairly easy to understand.
    I raathr liked this one - despite the 'message' and emotions being laid on with a trowel at times.

    1. Yeah, agreed about the thick use of messages. I liked this one, but still, it didn't blow me away or anything.


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