Post-war Rome is the setting for this lyrical and heartbreaking character study of bitterness, loneliness and reconciliation in the months following Italys liberation by the Allies. On a rainy night in the heart of the city, a cat burglar (Nando Bruno of ROME, OPEN CITY) inadvertently saves the life of a would-be suicide (BLACK SUNDAYs Andrea Checchi), despondent over having been betrayed by his fiancée while fighting in the war. Joining the avuncular thief for a night of misadventure, the young man intervenes in the arrest of an impoverished typist (Valentina Cortese, of Fellinis JULIET OF THE SPIRITS) who has turned to prostitution to pay for her boardinghouse room. Ducking out of the rain into a coffee bar, the strangers share hard luck stories over cognac and encounter a distinguished amnesiac (THE BICYCLE THIEF writer-director Vittorio De Sica), begging to be told who he is. When the new friends find themselves invited to an illegal private casino, old lovers are reunited, old grudges are revived and first love is given a second chance.
Made during the seminal years of Italian neorealism, ROMA CITTÀ LIBERA (ROME FREE CITY) was directed by Marcello Pagliero, famous for having played the stoic resistance leader tortured to death by the Nazis in Roberto Rossellinis incendiary ROME, OPEN CITY, and shot on location by Aldo Tonti, who would bring the same mixture of street-level grittiness and breathless magic to Federico Fellinis NIGHTS OF CABIRIA a decade later. Scripting the film was a whos who of up-and-coming giants of Italian cinemas golden age, including Ennio Flaiano (La Dolce Vita, 8½), Suso Checchi DAmico (THE LEOPARD, ROCCO AND HIS BROTHERS) and Cesare Zavattini (BICYCLE THIEVES, MIRACLE IN MILAN).
Completely restored from the original 35mm vault negative, ROMA CITTÀ LIBERA is only now available uncut and for the first time on DVD.