Fred Zinnemann


(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

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Ebreo nato a Vienna, a vent'anni emigro' a Parigi per studiare cinematografia. Nel 1929 torno' in Germania, dove fu assistente di Ulmir per Menschen am Somntag. Nel 1930 emigro' in America al seguito di Flaherty, e si lego' alla scuola di New York. Con Strand realizzo' Redes (1936), sullo sciopero di pescatori messicani.

Eyes In The Night (1942) is a mediocre thriller with farcical overtones.

Mac is a private detective who is blind. He is served by a funny black helper and a clever dog, buth faithful to death. The black man is hilarious in his jealousy towards the dog, who often outsmarts him. An old friend comes to visit Mac, the middle-aged Norma. She is haunted by a former lover, Paul, who is now an actor and has seduced her teenage daughter Barbara, an aspiring actress. She jokingly says that she needs a murderer. He encourages her to confront the scoundrel. Nora visits Paul, but Paul is unrepentant. She also talks to her daughter Barbara, but Barbara is bitter, and reminds Nora that she cheated on her husband (Barbara's husband) when she dated Paul. Barbara cannot be stopped: she walks to Paul's apartment. She finds him dead, murdered. Nora is nearby: she came to try to stop her. Barbara thinks Nora did it. Barbara does not seem terribly sorry but is determined to take her revenge: she tells her mom to leave their house or she'll call the police. Then Barbara walks coldly away, shedding not a tear for her dead lover. Nora asks Mac for help. Mac, blind, relies on her to tell him the details of the crime scene. When Mac, his assistant and his dog survey the apartment, the body of the dead Paul has disappeared. Mac hides in a closet and catches a man who breaks into the apartment to return a rug. Mac guesses that this is the real murderer. The mystery now is why he didn't want the body to be found there. Mac overheard the man make a phone call to his wife, the maid at Nora's house. Mac moves to the house pretending to be Nora's uncle while her husband is away. It turns out that the butler is the leader of the ring that is looking for some documents. Mac watches powerless when they kill the maid, who is ready to talk to Mac. Nora tells Mac that her husband has discovered a formula. Obviously the butler and his gang are after that formula. It turns out that the butler is himself reporting to a higher authority, who happens to be the woman who is the producer of the drama in which Barbara is acting. They realize that Mac is a sleuth and lock him in his room. He manages to send his clever dog to ask for help. Meanwhile, the husband returns. The gang demands that he opens the safe and delivers the formula. The dog brings the police just in time. The gang is arrested and the hostages released. Seventh Cross (1944), tratto da un romanzo di Scyhers e imbevuto di spirito antinazista, fu il film che lo rivelo`. Nel 1936 Tracy e altri sei prigionieri fuggono da un campo di concentramento nazista per dissidenti politici; uno ad uno gli altri vengono ripresi e crocifissi come monito per gli altri: e' impossibile sfuggire alla caccia spietata della polizia e all'ottuso fanatismo della gente. Tracy riesce a raggiungere il suo paese, chiede invano aiuto alla sua ex-ragazza, la quale ha sposato un nazista, ma trova asilo da un vecchio amico di gioventu' che ora e' felicemente sposato e padre di tre bambibi, ligio al regime vigente, talmente preso dal suo lavoro di operaio da non aver neppure letto sui giornali le disavventure dell'amico. Quando questi gli consegna la verita', lui non lo abbandona: va in cerca del capo della dissidenza, affida Tracy a un compagno di lavoro, viene interrogato dalla Gestapo ma non parla; un inserviente dell'albergo in cui Tracy si e' nascosto lo aiuta a eludere una perquisizione e lo fa fuggire dopo che la dissidenza, messasi finalmente in contatto con lui, gli ha fornito i documenti per emigrare. La storia e' raccontata da un morto (uno dei sei) e insiste su una morale semplicistica: che benche' la folla si dimostra bieca e crudele nei confronti della vittima, il singolo e' solidale: tanti piccoli uomini rischiano la vita per salvare quella di Tracy. La fuga dal campo ricorda i film carcerari, quella nei vicoli della cittadina, i film espressionisti (buio, il presunto mostro inseguito da una muta di presunti uomini).

Dopo altri cortometraggi minori, diresse in Svizzera The Search (1948), film semi-documentario, ambientato fra le macerie della Germania, ma falsato da una trama melodrammatica.

In occupied Germany, Americans are taking care of children without a family. A flashback shows how one of the children was raised by a decent family in the Czech republic, and then deported to a concentration camp. The children are scared and try to run away from the American soldiers. Two of them succeed. One drowns and the other one disappears. But he is alive. He is found in the ruins by an American officer, a civil engineer, who gains his trust and teaches him English. In the meantime, his mother is looking for him and arrives to the camp that he ran away from. The child, now renamed Jim, and the officer become good friends. The officer is told that the child's mother is dead. One day the child realizes that he used to have a mother, and decides that he wants to find her. He runs away, but the officer finds him and tells him that his mother is dead. His mother, instead, has taken a job at the camp to help take care of the children. But she can't resist and eventually resumes her desperate quest. Ironically, just when she is about to leave on the train, the officer brings her son to the camp. The nurse who welcomes him realizes that it is the same child that the woman has been desperately trying to locate. The nurse runs to the station to stop her, but only to see the train leave. Luckily, a new group of children has arrived, and, at the sight of all those lonely children, the woman has changed her mind: she has decided to stay and resume her job. The nurse finds her among the children and brings her back to the camp, where she is finally reunited with her son.

Fu il successo che lo lancio' a Hollywood.

The film noir Act Of Violence (1949) was set in the immediate post-war period, as if to extend the moral dilemmas of the previous film to peacetime. But the emphasis now shifted dramatically towards guilt and responsibility. The protagonist was a tormented soul. The plot was a classic case of stalking, but the real stalker was his conscience.

A limping man grabs a gun from a drawer, walks out of the buildings, boards a bus and drives to California, where he takes a room in a hotel and circles a name on the telephone book. It is the name of a man, Frank, who is being honored for his role in a housing project. A well-respected family man, he is going on a fishing trip. He just misses the telephone: the limping man was calling his number.
The limping man shows up at his house and learns from Frank's wife Edith where Frank went fishing. The limping man rents a car and drives there, inquires around, rents a boat, and finds where Frank is fishing. The limping man pulls out the gun and is ready to shoot but doesn't get a chance. Back to the pier, Frank learns that a limping man was looking for him. Frank quickly packs his stuff and heads back home in a hurry. He turns off the lights, doesn't answer the phone and gets angry at his wife Edith. When someone rings the bell, Frank is clearly terrified and stops his wife from making any noise. They hear the noise of the limping man dragging his leg around the house, looking for a way to get in. Frank tells his wife that the man holds a grudge against him for something that happened during the war. The man waits in his car outside the house. They go to sleep and the man is still there. His wife Edith asks him if this man is the reason that they moved to the other side of the country. He admits it. He has been hiding from this man all the years since the end of the war. This man, Joe, used to be his best friend when they were in the air force. Frank used to write to his wife about this Joe. They ended up in a prison camp, and that is where something went awfully wrong.
The following day Frank leaves early, pretending to be preparing for a convention. Joe shows up and forces his way into the house. She threatens to call the police, but Joe tells her that Frank would not want the police. Joe tells Frank's wife that Frank was a nazi informer who caused his fellow soldiers to be tortured and killed. He (Joe) was left for dead and survived. Frank's wife runs to tell Frank. And Frank admits the truth. He was the leader of the officers taken prisoner. When Joe and others decided to escape, Frank tried to stop Joe, thinking that they had no chance. As Joe couldn't be talked out of it, and fearing massive retaliation by the nazis on the other prisoners, Frank informed the nazists, asking only that his friends not be killed. The men who tried to escape were, instead, all mercilessly killed except Joe. Frank leaves town for the convention.
Joe finds out where Frank went and checks out from the hotel. His old girlfriend, Ann, has reached him and tries to stop him, but he can't be stopped. Then Ann goes to see Frank's wife, begging her to warn Frank that Joe knows where he is hiding. Frank is at the convention, partying with his friends, when Joe shows up. Frank runs away, chased by the limping man. He takes shelter in a bar that is closing and a woman (a prostitute?) takes him home. Frank asks the woman to call Joe (not clear how they get the number) and offer him money. Frank can hear Joe laughing. The woman tries to help by taking him to an shady attorney. The attorney offers to hire a killer on his behalf, but Frank resists the temptation. He wanders aimlessly through the dark deserted alleys of the underworld and then decides to end his life on a railway track. But at the last second he changes his mind. The woman and the hitman take him back to the woman's apartment. One more time Frank is torn between his conscience and his life, and one more time Frank is too weak to choose his conscience: he tells the hitman how to find Joe. When he wakes up, Frank realizes what he has done. The kind woman is packing her things to move out of town before the murder is committed. Frank goes home to tell Edith that Joe has left town and the problem is solved. Then he heads for the railway station, where the hitman is supposed to meet and kill Joe. Frank walks right in front of Ann without knowing who she is: she has called the police to look for Joe, fearing that Joe is about to kill Frank. At the railway station Joe faces Frank and is ready to shoot. Frank sees the hitman who is about to shoot Joe and jumps between them. The hitman runs away in a car, but Joe jumps on it and causes it to crash. The police, Ann and the crowd surround Frank's dead body. Joe volunteers to tell Frank's wife that Frank died a hero.
The Men (1950) e` un melodramma ancora sui reduci. E` un film segnato dallo sceneggiatore Carl Foreman e dal produttore Kramer, ma dove torna il tema della responsabilita'. Bud (Brando) is a paraplegic young man who lost the use of his legs in the war. At the hospital he has a hard time accepting the idea. In particular, he refuses to see his fiance, Elly. When she comes to see him, against his will, he shouts at her to go away. He doesn't want her pity, but her insistence wins him over. Her love gives him the motivation to start exercising. She asks him to marry her, and this gives him even more psychological strength to reacquire physical strength. Elly's parents are opposed, though, because they would like Elly to have children. Elly asks the doctor if that would be possible, and the doctor honestly says that he doesn't know. As Bud improves, he can only go back to basic pleasures of life, such as bowling. Even the doctor attends the moving wedding. But the first evening is a terrible embarrassment, as Elly realizes what it really means to live with a paraplegic and Bud realizes how miserable their life will be. After an argument, he goes straight back to the hospital, still dressed in the elegant wedding suit. His attitude is now hostile and violent. He becomes such a liability (he even has a car accident) that the manager of the hospital wants to dismiss him. His own friends at the hospital vote to have him dismissed. The doctor too thinks that it would be better for him to start a real life instead of vegetating at the hospital. This heals Bud who goes back to his wife with a more positive attitude. Dopo un documentario sugli ospedali psichiatrici, Zinnemann dirige in uno stile semi-neorealista Teresa (1951), ancora sui problemi causati alla coppia dalla guerra; un soldato americano sposa un'italiana e la porta in America, dove lei si sente straniera. E' un altro pannello del calvario dei reduci, ma questa volta visto dalla prospettiva di lei. A young veteran of war, Philip, is in line at an unemployment office but can't find the guts to beg for work. He runs back home where he can't talk to his nice parents. He is still having the same nightmare. A flashbacks shows him in Italy during the war. He is a naive soldier stationed in a ruined village among starving natives who hates violence and falls in love with a sweet girl, Teresa. They get married in the local church, or, better, what is left of it after the bombing. At the end of the war, Philip goes back to his parents but did not tell them about the wedding. His wife is waiting for the visa to join him. Finally, a telegram announces that she is coming on the ship. Philip's mom finds out accidentally that he is married, when she sees a picture of their wedding. Instead of rejoicing she cries. Philip waits for his wife at the harbor with many other former soldiers, each of them waiting for his war bride. He takes Teresa home to his parents. Their life with Philip's parents is awkward. His parents don't believe in Philip. He can't fight in real life the same way he couldn't fight as a soldier. His parents mean well but they suffocate him. Teresa gets pregnant, and Philip, instead of being happy, has a nervous breakdown. Still struggling to prove himself and to find a job, he decides to go away. When the baby is born, though, he comes back to his wife (a rather implausible happy ending). The Member of the Wedding (1952) is a mediocre adaptation of Carson McCullers' novel about a twelve-year old girl who is no longer a child but not yet an adult.

Il film che lo affermo' definitivamente fu High Noon (1952), il western che, nel rispetto delle convenzioni, stabili' il nuovo standard psicologico.

Si sta celebrando in umilta` il matrimonio fra James Cooper e la quacchera Grace Kelly. Kelly, come tutti i quaccheri, aborrisce la violenza, e Cooper le ha promesso di appendere la rivoltella e di rinunciare alla carica di sceriffo. Per 24 ore il paese rimarra` senza sceriffo, in attesa dell'arrivo del suo successore. Intanto alla stazione si presentano tre banditi ad aspettare il treno. Il capostazione apprende che sul treno viaggia un nemico giurato di Cooper, rilasciato dal carcere, e corre ad avvertirlo. Cooper parte comunque con la sposa sul calesse, ma il suo senso del dovere presto prevale: volta il calesse e torna in paese, deciso ad attendere il bandito e difendere il paese. Si tratta di un truce bandito che lui aveva mandato in carcere e che aveva giurato di vendicarsi. La moglie invano lo implora, poi lo minaccia, e infine lo lascia: va alla stazione a comprare un biglietto per lo stesso treno.
Il paese e` in subbuglio. Il giudice che lo condanno` prepara le valigie e se ne va in tutta fretta. Il giovane e impulsivo vicesceriffo, furibondo che Cooper non abbia voluto promuoverlo sceriffo e convinto che ce l'abbia con lui soltanto perche' si e` messo con la sua vecchia ragazza, si dimette. La ragazza, una messicana passionale, vende il suo negozio e decide di lasciare il paese. La moglie di Cooper aspetta il treno nella lobby dell'hotel dove soggiorna la ragazza messicana, e vede pertanto Cooper che va a trovarla. Cooper non aveva idea che lei si fosse messa con il vicesceriffo, ma sa che il bandito ha un conto in sospeso anche con lei: lei era infatti la ragazza del bandito prima di diventare la ragazza di Cooper. La moglie apprende la storia dal proprietario dell'albergo.
Il proprietario dell'albergo e` uno di quelli che addirittura sentono la mancanza del bandito: ai suoi tempi c'era vita in paese, e pertanto business. Molti in paese rimpiangono quei tempi e tifano per il bandito contro lo sceriffo, tanto che uno dei sicari viene trattato come un vecchio eroe al saloon, mentre, quando vi entra Cooper a cercare cittadini disposti ad aiutarlo, viene schernito.
Cooper cerca invano, di casa in casa, qualcuno disposto ad aiutarlo. Uno dei suoi migliori amici non si fa trovare in casa. Cooper va a cercare aiuto in chiesa: dapprima gli uomini onesti vorrebbero aiutarlo, ma poi si svolge un dibattito e prevalgono quelli che non vogliono piu' sparatorie in citta'. I cittadini riconoscono che Cooper ha portato l'ordine in paese ma adesso gli chiedono di andarsene e di rinunciare a battersi, perche' in tal modo si evitera` una sparatoria. Cooper prova da un altro vecchio amico, ma questi non vede lo scopo: non ha senso rischiare la vita per difendere un paese che non vuole essere difeso.
La moglie di Cooper va a chiedere alla messicana di spiegarle perche' il marito e` cosi` testardo, sospettando che sia perche' e` ancora invaghito di lei. Ma la messicana la rimprovera invece di aver abbandonato il marito al suo destino.
Tutti, per una ragione o per l'altra, esortano Cooper a fuggire, ma il senso del dovere e forse l'orgoglio prevalgono, e lui decide di affrontare egualmente il bandito. Nessuno lo vuole piu`, ma Cooper rimane. Il suo vice, colto da rimorsi, tenta di convincerlo a scappare, e tenta persino di stordirlo, ma e` invece Cooper a stordire lui. Anche l'unico uomo che si era offerto volontario si tira indietro, convinto che si tratterebbe soltanto di un suicidio.
Quando il bandito arriva Cooper e' solo e il paese e' deserto. La moglie e` appena salita sul treno con la messicana, ma al primo sparo scende e si precipita in paese. Nella lunga sparatoria per le strade del paese, Cooper riesce ad uccidere due dei sicari, ma non ce la farebbe se la moglie non uccidesse il terzo sicario, mettendo da parte i principi religiosi. Il bandito prende allora lei in ostaggio e obbliga Cooper ad arrendersi, ma la donna lo aggredisce quando sta per sparare e Cooper ha buon gioco a ucciderlo.
Mentre i paesani escono a felicitarsi, Cooper getta la stella e se ne va con la moglie.
Prodotto da Kramer e sceneggiato da Foreman, il film venne interpretato anche come un'allegoria dell'America maccartista.
La costruzione del film, il quale si svolge nell'arco di due ore, rispetta lo schema da morality play del western e la missione morale dell'eroe ("quest" cavalleresca dell'ideale), ma tutto e' sovraccarico di tensioni psicologiche (i personaggi hanno una struttura interna!) e di metafore universalizzanti. A questo capolavoro di Foreman, Zinnemann diede un montaggio nobile e angosciato e una fotografia arcaica.

From Here To Eternity (1952), una scialba riduzione da Jones, con un cast di stelle che ottenne un grande successo , e' un melodramma prolisso, ambientato alla vigilia di Pearl Harbour tra le truppe dei marines. Con questo film Zinnemann entra nella logica dello star system e delle convenzioni di Hollywood. Diresse infatti Oklahoma (1955), il celebre musical di Rodgers e Hammarstein.

A Hatful Of Rain (1957) is a powerful social drama and was one of the first movies to openly discuss drug addiction. The setting is a mixture of expressionist cinema (the oppressive and bleak landscape) and of realist theater (the apartment in which most of the action takes place). The film has a protagonist who initially looks like a mere detail: the brother of the junkie. The film is also two love stories: of Polo for his brother and of Polo for the good loving wife.

A middle-aged man walks against the background of New York's skyscrapers into an overcrowded high-rise housing project carrying his luggage. He walks up three flights of stairs and knocks at one of the doors. A young attractive woman, Celia, opens the door. He is the father of her husband Johnny, who was supposed to pick him up at the airport. The father meets him downstairs and takes him to see his brother Polo. In the taxi the father mentions that Johnny has wasted two years: a year in the army and a year in a hospital. They find Polo in a bar where he is fighting someone. He works there as a bouncer. The father announces that he has purchased a seaside property in Florida. He's excited and the children congratulate him. But then the father explains that he came to visit them because he needs the money that Polo promised him. Polo doesn't have the money and the father goes beserk. Father and Johnny return to the apartment. While they are enjoying Celia's special dinner, three young men call him outside: they want the money that he owes them. He is a drug addict. He has no way to pay them. They offer him a gun to start a career as a criminal.
Celia is pregnant.
While Celia, Johnny and the father play cards, Polo walks drunk around town. After dinner Celia confronts Johnny: he has lost his job again (for the fourth time) and his behavior is hostile. He didn't tell her that he had lost his job again. She found out because she called him at work. She suspects he may have an affair with another woman. She loves him, and he says that he loves her. Every now and then somebody calls, Celia picks up, and they just hang up: it's the drug dealers who want the money from Johnny. Polo lives with them and comes home drunk. Polo hints at a secret but Johnny drags him into his bedroom.
When Johnny puts his coat on to go out late at night as usual, Celia is ready to go out with him. He doesn't want her to come, and she sees it as proof that he is seeing another woman. He is actually going to get morphine from one of the dealers. Alone at home with Polo, she tries to make Polo talk. Polo loves Celia, and Celia knows it. Polo has always played second fiddle to Johnny, and their father has always cared for Johnny better, and Polo is still single. Celia tells Polo that he has to move out of their apartment. Celia is clearly tempted to accept his advances. Meanwhile, Johnny is robbing a man in a dark alley.
In the morning Celia goes to work. She is a typist. Polo confronts Johnny when he finally comes home, but Johnny only wants money to buy morphine: Polo tries in vain to make Johnny feel bad that Polo had to spent the money to help him with his drug addiction instead of saving it for father. That's where the money went. Father likes Johnny better, and is mad at Polo, but in reality Polo spent the money to save Johnny. Now Polo has had enough of it and refuses to give him more money. Polo drives Johnny to father's place. Father doesn't even say a word to Polo. Father thinks that Johnny is the model son, because Johnny has an apartment and a wife. When Polo leaves, Johnny defends Polo in front of his father. The father never did anything for them, whereas Polo sacrificed everything for him. Johnny is breaking down when Polo comes back. Polo stops him and pushes him out of the room just when Johnny is beginning to shout to his father how he got addicted: when he was at the military hospital, they gave him morphine. Johnny is losing control.
Polo wants to drive Johnny to the police, but Johnny threatens to jump off the car. Polo takes him to the appointment with the drug dealer, but the meeting is disrupted by the cops who have cornered the pusher. Johnny is delirious. The three men he owns money come to settle his debt. They give Johnny a fix to keep him going. They tell Polo to sell his car by the evening and pay Johnny's debt or else... Now that he got his fix, Johnny is back to his best self. Polo goes out with their father while Johnny waits at home for Celia. Johnny wants to start over with Celia, but Celia has decided to break up. Johnny finally confesses: he is a junkie and Polo had to spend the money to buy him the drugs. Celia is almost relieved that he was not cheating on her: he's not a cynical heartless torturer but a helpless victim who needs her motherly love.
Polo and father return home. Father is all upbeat, but the sons are not talking. Johnny breaks the news to him too. Needless to say, the father gets angry at Polo for paying. Johnny runs out, shameful and desperate. When he returns to the apartment, his family is not there: they took Celia to the doctor because she fainted. On the other hand, the three punks are waiting for him. Polo arrives in time and pays them. Johnny, shaking, tells them that he will not have anymore drugs. The three punks leave. Johnny, without morphine, plunges into another crisis. When father and Celia return to the apartment, they witness what happens to a junkie. Celia picks up the phone and calls for help.

The Nun's Story (1959), adapted from Kathryn Hulme's novel (that was extremely popular at the time), traccia l'itinerario morale di una missionaria insofferente della disciplina ecclesiastica, la quale decide di abbandonare l'abito religioso per potersi dedicare alla vera carita' cristiana in tempo di guerra, aiutando anche la Resistenza.

Gabrielle (Audrey Hepburn) leaves her family (and her influential father) for the convent, to become Sister Luke. She is indoctrinated and is ready to leave for missionary work. She passes a tough examination on tropical diseases (despite her mother superior's advice to fail in order to show humility) but her father intercedes so that she is not sent to Africa but to a local mental hospital. She is finally allowed to leave for Congo, where she enthusiastically joins the team of a clever and handsome doctor in the operating room. Her only trouble is the discipline that is "inflicted" on the nuns. She is not allowed to discuss, chat, etc. She witnesses a random act of violence when an African hacks the death one of the nuns. She is sent back to Europe. Again, bureaucracy interferes with her true vocation. She is sent to a hospital where she witnesses the brutality of the war that has just started (Germany has invaded Belgium and Holland). She receives a letter from her brother Pierre that her father has been killed by Germans for protecting refugees. She decides to leave the convent.

Benche' ambientata nei grandi spazi aperti, Sundowners (1960) e' fondamentalmente una commedia domestica, ambientata nell'Australia degli anni Venti.

A nomadic shepherd, his wife and their son reach a town in search for work. Paddy finds it right away and gets drunk at the saloon. His son meets a nice Englishman who helps him rescue his father from the saloon and joins them as a sheep driver. The shepherd's wife dreams of a permanent home, but they can hardly make ends meet. They lead the sheep to another town and cash in. Paddy is ready to move on and leave the town behind, but his wife and his son want to settle down, and they convince him to take a job shearing sheep at a farm. The whole family gets employed by the owner, who also hires the Englishman. While the latter starts flirting with the saloon owner, Paddy's wife becomes the chef of the farm. The only problem is that Paddy is rather unhappy with a routine: he needs open spaces and adventure. They convince him to stay a little longer in order to compete in a shearing context. He loses it, but his wife has saved enough money to purchase a farm. He hates the idea. They manage to take him there for a night. All he has to do is pay: instead, he gambles the money and loses it all. Whether by destiny or by design, he caused them to become nomads again. There is still one chance: their son has entered a horse race. He wins the first prize, and Paddy is ready to sell the horse and purchase the farm. Now it is his wife who doesn't want it, because she doesn't want him to be unhappy for the rest of his life. As they are arguing about buying the farm, the jury decides to disqualify their son for an irregularity. They burst out laughing and move on.

Behold A Pale Horse (1964) is a mediocre adaptation of Emeric Pressburger's novel "Killing a Mouse on Sunday".

Civil war erupts in Spain. The fascist dictator Franco wins. The defeated socialists march towards the French border, asking for asylum. One of them, Manuel (Gregory Peck) tries to turn back but his friends stop him. Twenty years later a boy, Paco, is taken to the border with France and sent to look for Manuel. Manuel has spent twenty years fighting the fascists in Spain with cross-border attacks, but now seems to have given up. Paco wants to find him: he is the son of a friend of Manuel, a friend who was killed by the evil fascist captain Vinolas. Paco wants revenge. He finds Manuel, but Manuel has become a lazy angry old man who has had enough of war. Paco reminds him that his father died under torture in prison for refusing to tell Vinolas where Manuel was hiding. Manuel kicks Paco out.
Meanwhile in Spain captain Vinolas (Anthony Quinn) lives a comfortable life with his beautiful lover Rosana. His wife calls. She's a sick sad woman. She tells him that something important has happened. Vinolas calls his office and finds out: Manuel's mother is dying. This gives him the golden opportunity to lay a trap for Manuel. Vinolas sets up an office across from the hospital to watch who comes and goes. Upon hearing that a priest, Francisco, is about to travel to Lourdes through the town where Manuel lives, Manuel's mother (who is not religious at all) asks to talk to him and tells him to warn Manuel not to come. The police seize Francisco and bring him to Vinolas, but Francisco sticks to his vow that forbids him to disclose what a sinner confessed. At the same time a man arrives from Manuel's town: it's Carlos the smuggler, who also happens to be an informer working for Vinolas. Carlos tells Vinolas that Manuel is reluctant to come and see his mother unless it's really necessary. The phone rings: the woman died. Vinolas tells Carlos to return to Manuel's town and tell Manuel that his mother begs him to come and see her one last time as soon as possible. Francisco is shocked to witness so much deceit.
Meanwhile in France Manuel is getting ready to go. Paco describes the location of the hospital. While Manuel is packing, the priest, Francisco, arrives and delivers the woman's message to Paco. Now Paco knows that she's dead, but he decides to throw the letter into the toilet. Paco hides it from Manuel because he wants Manuel to go and kill Vinolas. But then he sees Carlos and recognizes him as a traitor. Manuel refuses to believe it, and, confronted, Carlos pretends to be offended. Then Paco tells Manuel of the priest and the letter, but the letter is gone and the priest is on his way to Lourdes. It's the word of a child against the word of one of Manuel's best friends. Manuel decides to find out the truth: he takes both the child and the friend to Lourdes to find out if the child's story is true. They don't find Francisco and Manuel accuses the child of having lied. Carlos leaves. On the way back Paco spots Francisco. They stop and take Manuel into their car and take him to Manuel's place. Manuel doesn't believe the priest because his mother hated priests. They wait for Carlos. When Carlos faces the priest, he tries to flee. Realizing that he's indeed a traitor, Manuel tries to kill him but Carlos manages to escape.
Manuel confesses to the priest that he is no longer the bold fighter of his youth, that he kept postponing a visit to his mother because he was afraid. The priest risked his life to bring him his mother's message when Manuel did not want to risk his life to see his mother. The priest leaves to return to Spain. Manuel is inspired by the priest to risk his own life and still go to Spain, knowing that Vinolas is waiting for him. The only purpose is to prove that he still can. He digs up the guns that he had buried and walks across the mountains. The priest is arrested when he arrives at the train station. Manuel arrives at night and walks through the deserted streets. From the roof of the hospital he aims at Vinolas, but only wounds him. Then he enters the hospital and kills a few soldiers but is eventually gunned down.
The troops congratulate Vinolas for the killing. The journalists flock around the captain who carried out a historical mission. But Vinolas himself is puzzled why Manuel would risk his life knowing that his mother was dead.

A Man For All Season (1966) e' la biografia di Thomas More.

The Day Of The Jackal (1973), based on a Forsyth novel, is a fanta-political thriller that has zero depth. It is a mere tour of Europe a` la James Bond, without the high-tech gadgets and without the sexy partners. The plot is basically an elaborate implausible plan to stage a major terrorist act. It is even more predictable than the average Hollywood plot. The direction is superficial at best.

The "Jackal" is the professional hitman hired by a group of French "patriots" who want to eliminate French president Charles Degaulle, guilty of having surrendered in Algeria. The police is puzzled by a series of bank robberies carried out by the anti-Degaulle terrorists. In the meantime, the Jackal begins his meticolous preparation for the job by traveling to Rome, where he investigates in libraries, steals a Danish passports, and orders a special gun to be built. (All Italians and French have a cute English accent, so it's always a bit hard to figure out someone's nationality - luckily the Italians whistle "Volare"). The French police are monitoring members of the terrorist group in Rome, but don't quite understand what they are up to. They use all means: they even torture one of the members of the group. In the meantime, the "patriots" brutally assign a young girl to seduce an old minister of the government, so that she can spy on what the authorities know. The French authorities have figured out that the terrorists are planning a major strike, and that a man is in charge, but they can't find out the name of this person because nobody, even the members of terrorist group: they only know his nickname, "the jackal". know it. The French decide to assign the case to their brightest detective. Finally, the French find out the jackal's real identity and begin a colossal hunt for him. But he has already crossed into France, and has seduced a dumb noble woman. The police are following his moves, but always arrive too late to arrest him. He kills the woman, changes identity again and takes a train to Paris. The police keeps missing him because the girl tips him off every time after the detective reports to the ministers. The detective figures out that there is a mole, and eventually the minister is identified and has to resign (and later commits suicide). The detective finds out his new fake identity as a Danish teacher, and has the face of the teacher broadcast on television. The jackal has made a new friend and is staying at his place, to avoid the police searches in all the hotels. When his friend sees his face on television, the jackal has to kill him too. The detective suspects that the jackal is planning to strike during the parade of a national holiday, and the national holiday has come. The police are on maximum alert, but would miss him if the detective did not have the final stroke of genius and caught the jackal just one second before he pulled the trigger.

The mediocre Julia (1977), loosely based on Lillian Hellman's autobiography, is the portrait of a woman, or maybe of two, or maybe just of their morbid friendship.

Lilian (Jane Fonda) is a Jewish playwright who is typing desperately in a house by the beach, with the only company of an old famous writer and lover who stopped writing, Dash (Dashiell Hammett). She is in the middle of a writer's block and Dash cynically advises her to find another occupation. A flashback shows what happened that changed her life.
Before World War II, Lilian grew up with Julia (Vanessa Redgrave), the daughter of a wealthy Jewish family. Lilian felt the injustice of being rich in a world full of poor people. Lilian went to Oxford, while Lilian moved to Paris and became a writer. They met in Oxford, before Lilian, more imbued of ideals than ever, moved to the University of Vienna. Lilian kept writing to Julia: Lilian was becoming strongly opposed to fascism and nazism while these ideologies were seizing power. While in Paris, Lilian hears of the riots in Vienna: nazi youth is killing Jews and Julia is fighting with the resistance against them. Lilian travels to Vienna to visit her wounded friend, who is lying in a hospital bed and cannot even talk. But Julia disappears mysteriously, and finds a way to deliver a note to Lilian begging her to leave Vienna. Lilian returns to Paris, where she receives letters from Julia, who is well and promises they will see each other again some day.
Back to the USA, Lilian walks neurotically up and down the beach, still torn by memories of Julia. Dash reads her manuscript and tells her now it is indeed good. After her first success on Broadway, Lilian is invited to Russia. On her way she learns that Julia had dropped out of college and has joined an antifascist organization. Lilian desperately tries to get in touch with Julia. Julia sends an emissary to asks her to help their cause by smuggling money into Germany that is needed to save Jewish families. It is a deadly mission, especially for a Jewish woman. After Lilian boards the train bound to Germany, the film becomes a sort of spy thriller. Lilian manages to fool the German authorities and reach the Berlin train station, where two strangers show up to retrieve her candy box. They also instruct her to walk to a cafe where Julia is waiting for her. Julia, who now walks on crutches, instructs Lilian to give her the hat that she wore the whole trip. Julia also reveals that she has a daughter, living with her father at the border with France. She then instructs Lilian to leave. Lilian boards a train to Russia and is later informed that her luggage has been seized by the Germans, who clearly suspect her. Lilian is watching a play at the theater while Lilian in Germany is being assassinated by the nazis. When Lilian receives the news, she decides to find the daughter and take care of her. She travels to Europe but people are afraid to talk to her. Julia's own family refuses to talk to Lilian.
The relationship between the two women (and the reason why Lilian is so obsessed with finding her childhood friend) is never fully explored. Lilian behaves as if Lilian were her one and only lover, although she frequently sleeps with Dash and even invites him to go to Europe with her. Very confusing. It is not even clear why Julia's family would be hostile to Lilian.

Five Days One Summer (1982) e' una commedia romantica altrettanto atmosferica, in cui Connery e' un dottore scozzese in vacanza sulle Alpi svizzere che si innamora di una nipote.

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