Mussolini: The Untold Story (1985)
Director: William A. Graham.
Starring: George C. Scott (Benito Mussolini), Lee Grant (Rachele Mussolini), Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (Edda Mussolini-Ciano), Raul Julia (Count Galeazzo Ciano), Virginia Madsen (Claretta Petacci), Robert Downey Jr. (Bruno Mussolini), Gabriel Byrne (Vittorio Mussolini), Gina Bellman (Gena), Anne-Louise Lambert (Orsala), Gunnar Möller (Adolf Hitler), Kenneth Colley (King Vittorio Emmanuele), Wolf Kahler (Skorzeny), Paul Herzberg (Major Spogler), Richard Kane (Von Ribbentrop).
based on the memories of Vittorio Mussolini, the oldest son of the Italian dictator
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire film.
Mussolini attends a meeting of the Council. He tells the members to speak freely; that he will not react in a negative way. He adds: So there is no need Dino for the hand grenade in your briefcase. He understands that for a resolution to have him relinquish his power there are eleven votes against him with seventeen to go. The military situation is terrible. The army has left only two effective divisions. There are only 200 airplanes fit to fly and the navy does not dare to venture out of port. Enemy war planes are bombing Italian cities and Sicily has been overrun. Soon the Allied invasion of Italy will begin.
Another vote will be taken on Grandi's motion. The idea is to take power from Mussolini and give it to the king. Scorza calls the names out and the members say yes or no. The result is nineteen yes and eight no votes. The motion is carried and the meeting is closed. Mussolini says to Dino: "You've murdered fascism."
Mussolini's son-in-law Count Galeazzo Ciano speaks with his wife Edda Mussolini Ciano about the meeting. She is upset and outraged at the affront to her father. Then Galeazzo tells her that he was one of the nineteen who voted yes to pass the resolution. Edda is not happy about his vote, but she still loves her husband.
Vittorio, a son of Mussolini, talks with his mother Rachele Mussolini. Mussolini was taken away in an ambulance. Mother says: "Oh, God I warned him." The police knock on the door of Mussolini's mistress Claretta Petacci. They grab her and throw her into a car.
The next Premier (Prime Minister) will be Marshal Pietro Badoglio. The Italian people seem very happy as they dance and sing in the streets. Driving to her mother's place, Edda sees the celebrators burning pictures of her father. A crowd gathers and moves toward the Mussolini home. They start throwing rocks through the windows and chant: "Kill them! Burn them to hell!" The king's guard finally arrives and the man in charge apologizes for not preventing the whole affair. They now station guards at the house. Later Edda says: "Once so high, now so low."
Hitler's Headquarters, Rastenburg, East Prussia. Hitler tells his staff: "I'm taking over Italy." He sends Skorzeny and Kappler to rescue Mussolini. Edda arrives at Hitler's headquarters. She says she has come to see her brother Vittorio. Hitler has his men give her a bunch of white flowers. She tells Hitler that she wants to go to Spain with the family, but Hitler is not interested. She leaves, unhappy.
Mat Gran Sasso D'Italia, a ski resort near Monte Carlo, where Mussolini is being held. German gliders land near the resort and out of them pour German soldiers armed with automatic weapons. In one of the rooms two Italian guards tell Mussolini that their orders are to kill him. Mussolini tries to talk them out of it and he succeeds with one and that man in turn convinces the other not to shoot. The Germans put Mussolini in an airplane and fly him to Hitler. When Mussolini arrives, Hitler warmly greets him. The Italian monarchy has been abolished. Mussolini can't return to Rome. Hitler wants him to go to Munich to make some radio pronouncements. Hitler wants Count Ciano dead, but Mussolini says he can't kill his daughter's husband. Hitler says to Mussolini: "I'm not suggesting, I'm requesting."
Munich, September 1943. Edda sees her father. He says that only three of the sixty people he called would agree to serve in a government under his command. Edda tells her father that her husband is not a traitor.
Edda and her husband arrive with the children. Edda tells her dad: "We must get to Spain." But her father says "We all have to go back." To Italy, that is. The Germans take Galeazzo away in an airplane. Back in Italy he is placed in prison.
Lake Garde, Italy, Mussolini's new headquarters. Edda goes to see Mussolini. They are going to put her husband on trial and she wants her dad to intervene on his behalf. He did no betray his country. All he did, according to her, was to vote to end the war. But her father only tells her: "No one can stop it now." Then Edda tries a little blackmail. Unless dad intervenes, she will make sure that her husband's secret diaries about all his meetings with Hitler and Von Ribbentrop are given to the Allies. Mussolini only replies: "Nothing can stop the judges in Verona. . . . We have to keep faith with our own ideals, even if they are doomed." Later her brother Vittorio finds her and tells her: "I heard Edda." She cries on her brother's shoulder.
A German officer comes to tell Mussolini that his mistress is in a villa a few kilometers from here. Mussolini goes to see her. Later in town Mrs. Mussolini sees the mistress. She goes out the back way of the store so the woman won't see her. Then when she sees her husband she yells at him. Mussolini says: "Rachele, what is this? This is not like you?" She fights back with: "How could you do that to our children? . . . Get rid of her!" She later says that the Germans brought her here and she herself will see that Claretta Petacci leaves.
Rachele with some German soldiers comes to see Claretta. The mistress tells the wife that " . . . he needs me. . . . I'm his spiritual support!" It is he who will not leave her in peace and not vice versa. And she says she has the letters to prove it. Rachele demands to see the letters. Claretta gets the letters, opens one and reads. After a short reading, Rachele stops her. She has heard too much already. The German officer tells the mistress: "The letters must not leave this house!" Rachele tells Claretta that she will come to a bad end. The people will take her into the Plaza Loreto and there will be blood for blood.
A now sickly Rachele says to Mussolini: "I didn't know how much she meant to you. . . . What a scoundrel I married." Mussolini replies "You alone are my woman. She comes second." Rachele says: "Second is too close." She adds that the meeting with Clara broke her heart; the mistress really loves her husband. Mussolini says he will send Claretta away, as long as she promises to recover. Rachele promises.
Edda comes to the prison to see her husband. They are kept apart by the guards standing about twelve feet from each other outside the prison door. They talk about the family. She then runs to her husband to whisper to him that she is working on a plan to trade his diaries for his freedom. The guards break them up.
The trial judges give the death sentence to all the defendants, including Ciano. There is silence among Mussolini's crew when Vittorio walks in to see his father. Edda is said to be going to Switzerland. The Germans are furious about it. If they catch her, there will b hell to pay. Vittorio says he will look for Edda in Como in a place she sometimes goes to. When he arrives at the place, the guards tell Vittorio that Edda has been taken to the border with Switzerland.
Those condemned to die have their hands tied to the top rung of their chair with their backs to the firing squad. The firing squad fires. The bodies are checked by the doctor. Ciano is still alive. The German officer fires a bullet into Ciano's head. In church, Edda receives the news that her husband is dead. Then she has to tell her children.
June 1944. The Allies liberate Rome.
Italian Alps near Lake Garda. Mussolini speaks with his mistress. She wants him to hide away with her from the world until things settle down. But Mussolini says he cannot hide from the world. And Rachele insists that he send her away. Claretta asks: "Is this what you want?" Yes. A German major takes her away in his car for the drive to Milan.
Hitler speaks with Mussolini on the phone. The German dictator will remain in his bunker in Berlin. Like Hitler, Mussolini's enemies are closing in on him (on Milan in Mussolini's case). Rachele tells her husband: "Don't go to Milan!" But he goes anyway. Major Schmidt reports that Bologna has fallen to the Americans and that they can only hold Milan for a few hours. Mussolini will leave for Vault Terlina for his final stand. He tells his wife to go to Monza and then to Switzerland. From there she is go get on a plane to go to Spain. Mussolini then talks with Vittorio to tell him to hide and then escape while he can. He has to tell his son that it is an order. He adds: "Must I beg you Vittorio?"
Edda tries to enter Switzerland, but she is sent back: "We cannot admit any more Mussolinis", says the guard.
The partisans have set up ambush sites around Milan. Mussolini is to be taken in a German convoy to Milan, but the convoy is stopped by the partisans. They tell the major that they will let the Germans pass as long as they can search for and take out any Italians they find. The major agrees. While the checking begins, the major walks to the back of the convoy to tell Mussolini to put on a German overcoat and a German helmet. But a partisan leader spots Mussolini even though the dictator's back is turned to him. He tells the major: "I want that man in the overcoat." While the two men argue, Mussolini comes out by himself, saying: "I believe you're looking for me."
Mussolini is taken by car to a villa. Along the way they pick up his mistress. Claretta had asked the Germans for permission to go to Milan with Mussolini and they granted her wish. Mussolini asks her: "Why are you here?" She answers: "Because I wanted to be. . . . My life is meaningless without you." They are taken to a farmhouse until it is safe to proceed. Mussolini tells Claretta: "History will prove me correct." Others are sure to follow in his footsteps, he says.
They leave with the Germans the following morning. Suddenly the car pulls over to the side of the road. Mussolini and Claretta are taken out. They are to be shot. Claretta jumps in front of her lover and takes the bullet meant for him. Then Mussolini is shot three times in the chest. The bodies of the two, along with three of Mussolini's crew, are dumped in the plaza square. They are all hung upside down by their feet. The spectators start attacking the bodies, spitting on them and doing other horrid things to them.
Rachele is held in prison. A cellmate asks her: "Why are you not weeping? Have you not lost anyone?"
Good movie. What I like about this movie was that it covered the last days of Mussolini in much greater detail than the other movies I saw. And you finally get to see the real fate of Mussolini and his mistress after they are shot. There are a lot of very well-known and very good actors in the movie, including George C. Scott, Lee Grant, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Raul Julia, Virginia Madsen, Robert Downey Jr. and Gabriel Byrne. My wife also liked the movie.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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