Roberto Rossellini’s neorealist film Rome, open city was released in 1945, became an international success and made Anna Magnani a star. It has been newly restored. During the Nazi occupation of Rome, resistance leader Giorgio Manfredi (Marcello Pagliero), has to hide at Francesco and Pina’s apartment. Pina (Anna Magnani) is pregnant and about to marry Francesco (Francesco Grandjaquet). The couple works for the resistance. Everyone seems to be in the resistance including the parish priest, don Pietro Pellegrini, and Pina’s own son, Marcello, who plants bombs with other boys. There is Pina’s sister, Laura, who works in a cabaret. Giorgio’s ex-lover, Marina (Maria Michi) also works at the cabaret, and she tells the Gestapo commander where Giorgio is hiding in exchange for drugs. How new it must have seemed in 1945. In Rome, open city, Anna Magnani plays an unwed pregnant mother, there is drug addiction, mention of prostitution, some very revealing neckline, a hint of lesbianism and quite graphic (for the time) torture scenes. One has to ask if censorship was involved when it was shown in the United States or somewhere else. And there is Anna Magnani. Pina is a relatively small part in what turns out to be an ensemble cast. Another important character is don Pellegrini (very good Aldo Fabrizi). But Magnani is appealing and likable. The moment that made the most impact happens when Francesco is getting arrested and Pina runs after the truck. It is real, sudden, shocking and raw. The rest is history.
And the Oscar went to… In 1947 Rome, open city got an Oscar nomination in the category Best writing, Screenplay. The writers were Sergio Amidei and Federico Fellini (His first nomination). The other nominees : Sally Benson and Talbot Jennings for Anna and the King of Siam; Anthony Havelock-Allan, David Lean and Ronald Neame for A brief encounter; Anthony Veiller for The killers. And the winner was Robert E. Sherwood for The best years of our lives.
Rome, open city (Roma città aperta)