• Marriage
    Italian Style (Matrimonio All'italiana)
    Today and Tomorrow (Ieri


  • Yesterday Today Tomorrow
    (Yesterday Today Tomorrow)
    Marriage Italian Style
    (Italian wedding)

Vittorio de Sica

Long regarded as milestones of neo-realism, the films of Vittorio De Sica reveal a level of emotional manipulation that exposes the impossibility of achieving a single, all-embracing definition of Italy's postwar "movement". Their "reality" is contrived, their tone poetic, their "faith" in ordinary people often pessimistic. A matinee idol in the '20s and '30s, De Sica was thus able, eventually, to finance his own films. Directing his first feature in 1940, he went on to make, with scriptwriter Cesare Zavattini, a number of Italy's best-known neo-realist films. During the '50s and '60s, the director moved away from real locations, non-professional actors and social comment into slick, studio-shot satirical farce and glossy melodrama; films such as Two Women, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow and Marriage Italian Style, often featuring established stars-notably Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni-treated sexual issues with a shallow superficiality. As time passed, De Sica seemed an increasingly lightweight artist led by his sympathetic direction of actors and his astute comic timing towards ever more escapist material. Only in the '70s just before his death, did he return to more political subjects, depicting the incarceration of Jews in pre-war Fascist Italy in The Garden of the Finzi-Continis and confronting the old problem of Italy's class and regional differences as revealed by a woman's visit to a sanatorium in A Brief Vacation. The first, however, was decorative in its rosy nostalgia and hazy elegance; the satire of the second was countered by the cliches of a romantic subplot. In retrospect, even De Sica's neo-realist work was marred by melodrama; the authenticity of location-shooting is undermined by schematic plots and excessive heart-on-the-sleeve sentimentality. The superbly naturalistic, non-professional performances in his best work, however, do convey an overwhelming emotional power. Geoff Andrew. The Film Handbook. UK: Longman Group, 1992. 79-