Gli Sbandati (The Disbanded) (1955)
Director: Francesco Maselli.
Starring: Lucia Bosť (Lucia), Isa Miranda (Contessa Luisa), Jean-Pierre Mocky (Andrea), Goliarda Sapienza (Lucia's aunt), Anthony Steffen (Carlo), Leonardo Botta (Ferruccio), Marco Guglielmi (Scattered soldiers' officer), Giuliano Montaldo (Scattered soldier from Tuscany), Ivy Nicholson (Andrea's girlfriend).
a mama's boy has great difficulties in breaking away from his mother so he can love a refugee girl around the time of the Italian armistice with the Allies in WWII
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire film.
Summer 1943. The narrator Andrea says that the summer was hot at Malga, their country villa. Their city is that of Milan. His mother didn't like the country, so they only went to Malga on special occasions. He spent the longest times at Malga when he was 11 years old. His father had died in a car crash. The family owned various factories. When WWII came, they moved to Malga. He was 19 when the war started.
The maid awakens Andrea early because he has to go into town to speak with the mayor. That summer he had company: his guest Ferruccio, his childhood friend, along with his cousin Carlo. Ferruccio's father was a commander-in-chief fighting in Croatia. Andrea tells Ferruccio that he and Carlo are going with him into town to speak with the mayor and then they will go swimming in the river. Ferruccio whines that he really doesn't want to go into town. He has to wake up Carlo, whose father Giovanni was a leader in the fascist party, who fled to Switzerland after July 25, because he had received a telegram.
The three fellows bicycle into town. They see refugees lining up to speak to the mayor into the city hall building. Carlo splits off from the other guys to go get his telegram. Andrea and Ferruccio go upstairs in the city hall past a long line of people waiting on the steps for their turn. A man stands in the doorway at the top of the stairs and he helps the Count and Ferruccio get through the crowd there. The fellow then lets the Sillani family in.
Mayor Nascimbene says that the countess is taking in some of the refugees. Andrea says that he knows that, but what the mayor doesn't know is that the family is excluded from housing refugees. And besides, a Mr. Clerici and his family are already staying with them.
There is a commotion outside involving the farm worker Martino. Martino is mad because a prospective employer who needs workers won't hire him. The Mayor comes down and scolds Martino for fighting with the fascist Comaschi. Martino says the Mayor defends Comaschi because he himself wore his fascist badge until July 25. The farm worker starts walking away from the fight. Carlo returns and Andrea tells his two friends to go down to the river for a swim. He has to tell his mother about the Sillani family, but then he will come for a swim with them.
Ferruccio sits down on a blanket with a pretty brunette named Isabella. He tells the young lady that Andrea had to tell his mother about the refugees or his mother might have started shooting at them. The young woman says they have taken in refugees too, but they are no bother. She is very impatient for Andre to show up. She mentions that Andrea is too dominated by his mother. Andrea turns up and she complains that she has been waiting all morning for him. While sunning themselves, the two kiss.
The three friends are having dinner with the Countess. She says that they should be able to choose the refugees that they want to take in. The Countess has invited some family over. Ferruccio jokes that the refugees would be better than taking in Uncle Marco and Aunt Margie. The Countess says this is a serious matter and she would prefer some other way to help out rather than taking in evacuees. She scolds Andrea for not being firm with the Mayor and refusing to take more refugees in. Carlo says that Andrea just couldn't turn the refugee family down. Ferruccio says he didn't turn the family down because the daughter was so pretty. He goes on to tell the Countess that Andrea has already asked to see the pretty one tomorrow.
Andrea and the refugee girl sit on the river bank and talk. He asks her if she like this beautiful countryside? She says yes, but she would rather be at home. And yet now there is nothing much left of her town Corso Lodi. She used to work making boxes. Andrea laughs and says that doesn't sound like an interesting job. She shoots back at him: "Not everyone can choose the job they want." She gets up and says it's getting late, they should go. She senses that she upset Andrea so she makes pleasant conversation with him. And she asks was there any interesting news on the radio last night? He says she can come over and listen to the radio news at 6 p.m. Lucia says that she wants to hear if there's any news about Sicily where her brother is stationed with the military.
They start the journey back home. Lucia mentions Martino and says he was very kind to her and her family. He told her that Andrea doesn't care much about anything. This makes Andrea angry and he starts walking ahead of Lucia. When they reach the paved road he gives Lucia a ride on his bike. He tells her he has a girlfriend. They almost fall over and they both start to laugh. The next day Andrea was down by the river all day.
As narrator Andrea says that he spent the whole next day by the river. His girlfriend Isabella never looked more beautiful, but all he kept thinking about was Lucia.
The Countess tells Carlo that his father is a bit mad at him because Carlo doesn't write and he doesn't want to come back home. The Countess says he should have a better attitude toward his father, because the man has worked so hard all his life. Carlo dismisses that and his aunt scolds him for not being more grateful. In his defense, Carlo says he loves his father, but now in Italy there is nothing much left, because it has all been destroyed. He adds; "And my generation will have to rebuild everything."
Ferruccio and Andrea come into say hello to the Countess. Mother tells her son: "Why on earth did you invite that girl here?" Lucia came over to listen to the radio. Andrea lies and says he doesn't know anything about that. Mother says she doesn't want people knowing that they listen to Radio London. A servant knocks on the door announcing that Miss Sillani is here to see Master Andrea. Mother looks shocked so Andrea says the young lady is obsessed with him. He puts on a show telling the servant Eugenio to go out and tell the lady that no one is at home.
Andrea is angry at having to send Lucia away because of his mother. Carlo says that the Countess was rather rude to Lucia. Is Andrea sure he never invited Lucia over? Andrea lies again saying he didn't. Ferruccio asks for silence. They listen intently and figure that Milan must be being bombed. This is the worst bombing Milan has received so far. One of the refugees screams bloody murder. The Countess tells Andrea to go over and see what has happened. Lucia's mother is having a grieving attack because of the bombing. Grandfather says that her husband died in the bombings.
Carlo goes to get the mother a sedative. He comes back and puts some sedative in a little bit of wine. Lucia has her drink the medicine down. Carlo tells her to give her more 10 more drops in the morning. Lucia is a bit angry at Andrea because he did not tell his mother what truly had happened concerning the radio. She hardly looks at him. She talks to Carlo instead. Later Carlo tells Andrea: "You're a scoundrel!" This remark gets Andrea to stop and think. The sound of the bombing is now intense.
The next day Andrea sits for hours at the outdoors cafe. Now Lucia doesn't even say hello to him. And he is still peeved about Carlo calling him a scoundrel. On the way back home he crosses paths with Ferruccio and Carlo heading downtown. The interaction is rather stiff.
Andrea goes to his room. He looks out the window and sees Lucia hanging up clothes. She turns and looks at him and then turns back. He slams a shutter closed. Lucia keeps looking toward his window.
The Countess learns that the war is over! She goes into Andrea's room to tell him, but he is not there and his bed is made up. People start congregating together outside talking about the news. Andrea walks arm in arm with his mother downtown. Lucia sees Andrea and he sees her. She just stares at him. Over the radio everyone hears that Italy was fighting a losing battle and has requested an armistice from General Eisenhower. Someone asks what Martino thinks? He says it's great, but the Italian army needs to stay united with the German army.
Andrea watches Lucia walk away with her family. Isabella comes up to tell Andrea that she always knew he would never have to fight. Andrea is very cold to her and walks away. Mother comes out and she tells Isabella that she should go home. She tells Andrea to get the farmer to take her home. Andrea starts walking and Isabella comes along. She says that Ferruccio told her that the reason why she has seen so little of Andrea is that he's been preoccupied with one of the refugee guests his family took in. At first Andrea says it's not true, but then he says it's true. Isabella gets angry at Andrea and taunts him about going with a poor refugee girl that has already turned him down.
At the apartment, Lucia hears the sounds of a car. She rushes downstairs and just sees the car disappearing around a corner. She is very sad. And then Andrea talks to her. Lucia says he thought he left for Milan. He says no, only his mother went to Milan. He kisses Lucia passionately, but she pushes him away. He asks her why? He says it's because he's a poor little rich boy who is spoiled and isn't a hero like Martino and he's not good enough for a girl who's a box maker. Lucia slaps him, he slaps her back. She starts going to her apartment. He regrets what he said and did and calls out to her, but she just keeps going.
A month later. Andre has not even seen Lucia and he has felt constantly unhappy and anxious. He says that at the beginning of October 1943 in Montodine, German convoys started coming through on the railway. Italians caught by the Germans were being transferred to Germany in cattle cars. One of the Italian railway workers flings the door lock up and some prisoners jump out. The prisoners keep running away until the Germans start shooting the prisoners near the train.
Ferruccio tells Andrea that these days he's been kind of out of everything. And he is so irritable. He asks if Andrea now wants to be a hero? Andrea scoffs at him. Ferruccio continues by saying that nobody has any respect for Italy anymore. Lucia comes in saying that escaped Italian prisoners are hiding from the Germans nearby the villa. She adds that Carlo is already down there and he told her to ask Andrea if the prisoners could stay in the villa? Andrea comes with her. Ferruccio follows Andrea.
One of the prisoners is bleeding badly. Andrea tells the prisoners to come to the villa, but come quietly! He then tells Carlo to put the wounded man in his bed because he will need a doctor. After that Carlo goes to get the doctor. Then he asks his friend Pietro to take him to see Martino. It's important. With a little more convincing, Pietro agrees to take Carlo to Martino.
Lucia works on the wounded man, while Andrea brings food to the escapees. The military fellows have a long discussion about what they should do to get back home. A story comes in about the Germans killing a local farmer for harboring the escapees. The story makes Ferruccio scared and he tells Andrea in front of everyone that these escapees are no more than brutal outlaws! They are a danger to the house and to Andrea. Andrea tells Ferruccio to get lost. Ferruccio leaves the room.
The officer in the group tells his men they can get a truck to take them up into the mountains. There they will join up with others like them and be a part of the Resistance. All the soldiers agree to the plan, except for one who says he is going home to see his wife.
Lucia comes down and Andrea asks her how is the wounded man? She says he's stable and his friend with him fell asleep. Andrea now tells Lucia that he has changed. And now they kiss each other. They go into a bedroom, lay on the bed and continue kissing in private.
Ferruccio goes to the Mayor, but he isn't there. So Ferrucciol tells the Mayor's fascist brother-in-law Comaschi that the escapees from the train are now at the villa. Comaschi and his friend start planning the attack on the villa. Ferruccio asks if his friends will be alright? They tell him not to worry.
Someone sees Ferruccio come out of the Mayor's house.
Back at the villa, they notice that Ferruccio has disappeared. Maybe they should have never let him leave! The wounded man dies. Ferruccio returns to the villa and asks Andrea to listen to him. But Andrea wants to know where Ferruccio went because he wasn't in the villa or around the outside of the villa. The man who knows where Ferrucciowas comes up and tells Andrea that Ferruccio went to see the Mayor, he says he saw Ferruccio. The Mayor wasn't in, only his fascist brother-in-law. The villa is no longer a safe place. Andrea slaps Ferruccio a couple of times across the face.
Everyone comes running to see what's going on. They tell Andrea that they must lock this guy Ferruccio up.
Someone calls everyone over to listen to the radio. Naples has been freed from German control. Moreover, the residents of Naples started fighting the Germans. Now the group goes into fast motion. They change into civilian clothes. Lucia tells Andrea that she is coming with him. Ferruccio told Comaschi that she brought the escapees to the villa, so she won't be safe staying at the villa.
The men put the dead man's body on a stack of hay on top of a wagon and cover him up. The driver takes off.
The truck arrives. The escapees jump in the back of the truck. Andrea asks the maid to let Ferruccio out now. And now the Countess arrives and she has brought with her the German police official from Milan! Ferruccio shows up saying thank heaven the Countess has arrived. Carlo tells the Countess that they are going with the escapees. Mom asks: "Are you crazy?" Carlo takes Lucia with him to the truck. Mother tells Andrea to stay with her. He tells her that he can't abandon his friends and the escapees. And he promised Lucia he would go. So now mom throws the works at him: "Andrea, you're all I have. I'm all alone." She starts crying on his shoulder.
Andrea does want to leave his mother and starts walking away from her. He starts to explain to Lucia, but very disappointed she now runs to the truck. Mother puts Ferruccio and Andrea in her car. The Germans arrive to search the villa. The Major tells his sergeant: "Don't damage the house, the owner is a collaborator." The Major sends three of his men on motorcycles after the escapees. As mother pulls away from the villa, Andrea hears submachine guns being fired and he starts wailing with fear for what happened to his friends.
The German driver of the motorcycle with a side car crashed and the men are no longer chasing the truck. But in the street lays two dead bodies, those of an escapee and Lucia.
October 5, 1943.
Spoiler Warning: Good film, but a sad ending. Our hero Andrea was always a mama's boy, dominated by his mother the Countess. He falls in love with a refugee woman named Lucia, but the Countess and her relationship with her son, spoil the budding romance, as Andrea sacrifices Lucia to protect his relationship with his mother. Through trying to help some Italian escapees from the Germans following the Italians calling for an armistice, the mamma's boy and Lucia have to work together and so they come back together. But then comes the finale, which is a bit of a shocker, and a sad one at that. Lucia Bosť (as Lucia), Isa Miranda (as Contessa Luisa), Jean-Pierre Mocky (as Andrea) were all very good in the film. The film kept my interest throughout.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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