Nazis and Neorealism

SAM begins its Rome on Film series

Roberto Rossellini’s 1945 neorealist classic, Rome, Open City, builds upon actual events and characters from Italy’s World War II underground Resistance, which battled German occupiers by using priests, women, and even children as soldiers. The great Anna Magnani plays the pregnant widow hoping to marry a partisan fighter; the role made her a star, and it’s still a shock when the Germans snuff out her vitality in a hail of bullets. Open City occasionally stops for corny speeches (like we need to be convinced the Nazis are evil?), but it’s basically a surefire manhunt movie in which a fugitive Resistance leader gradually runs out of places to hide. Federico Fellini had a hand in the screenplay, which includes drug addiction, prostitution, and implicit lesbianism among the vices unleashed by World War II. “Life is brutal, dirty,” says an actress reduced to whoring with Germans, but it’s war she’s talking about. This Thursday night series continues through April 4. (NR) BRIAN MILLER

Fri., March 7, 7:30 p.m., 2008

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