Sunday, 6 July 2014

Travels With My Film Life: Naples, 1963 - Rosi's "Le Mani Sulla Citta"

Ciao! We are having a very noisy and dramatic time in what has turned out to be a very noisy, dusty city. All this building going on... And the music is very loud also. The Old Man is getting grumpy and looking for ear plugs.
We spend most of our time amongst the wheeler-dealers of Naples - Councillors, politicians, developers .... Councillors who ARE politicians and developers...
We are watching "Le Mani Sulla Citta" of 1963 by Francesco Rosi. Starring American actor Rod Steiger (dubbed) as property developer and councillor Edoardo Nottola. (This is the same year that Rosi's mentor Visconti released his film "The Leopard" starring another American name - Burt Lancaster.)
Nottola's building practices cause the collapse of an adjacent tenement, killing two people and maiming a young boy. But most of the film is about what goes on in the City Hall as elections come up - much wheeling and dealing.
The music is loud, the people are loud... there is much arguing and shouting going on all the time. But above all this is a film about corruption... about the underbelly of the development race going on in Rosi's native Naples at the time. Certainly the opening shots are jaw-dropping as the aerial shots of the buildings reveal new blocks perched on "stilts" over the frail sloping land.

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