One doesn’t usually expect a film about infidelity, divorce and murder to be a comedy but that’s one reason Divorzio all’italiana (English title: Divorce, Italian Style, 1961) directed by Pietro Germi, became an unexpected international hit. A caustic satire about the Italian male – or more specifically, Sicily’s male dominated culture – the film also poked fun at Italy’s hypocritical judicial system which can forgive crimes of passion but not legally recognize divorce as a solution for failed marriages. Another factor in the movie’s success was Marcello Mastroianni’s beautifully rendered portrayal of the preening, self-absorbed protagonist, a performance which not only won him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor (the first time in Academy Award history that the lead in a foreign language film received that honor) but still ranks as one of the actor’s key films, following closely on the heels of Fellini’s La Dolce Vita (1960) and Antonioni’s La Notte (1961).
When film critics compile their favorite top ten lists of anti-war movies, you can usually expect to see titles like King Vidor’s The Big Parade (1925), Lewis Milestone’s All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory (1957), Kon Ichikawa’s Fires on the Plains (1959), Wolfgang Petersen’s Das Boot (1981) and Elem Klimov’s Come and See (1985) among the favored elite. It has only been in recent years that Bernhard Wicki’s The Bridge (German title: Die Brucke) has popped up on lists, thanks in part to The Criterion Collection, which remastered it on DVD and Blu-ray in June 2015. Almost forgotten since its original release in 1959, the film is just as powerful and moving as it was over sixty years ago.