Love in the City (Italy, 1953):
(L'Amore in Cittą)

An early example of the Italian omnibus film, a subgenre of irresistible conceptual appeal and inevitable built-in unevenness (RoGoPaG, Le Streghe, Boccaccio '70). The brainchild of neorealism doyen Cesare Zavattini, it huddles a batch of shorts from various directors hinging on amore thematics, whether built around strands of melancholy flirting (Dino Risi's surveilling of a provincial jitterbugging hall) or forlorn lechery (Alberto Lattuada's flipbook of males double-taking over strolling lookers). Not surprisingly, Zavattini's own contribution, following a poor unwed mother through the daily grind of Roman boarding houses and crowded welfare offices, is the one most obviously cuffed to neorealist ideas (the heroism of the wretched) and tropes (an unbroken diaper-changing shot apes the real-time integrity of the maid's morning routine in Umberto D.). By contrast, the more interesting segments by Michelangelo Antonioni and Federico Fellini push the aesthetics toward bladelike abstraction (alienated women reenacting botched suicide attempts for Antonioni's cooling lenses) and fantasy-tinged satire (Fellini's account of a pure, struggling country girl rung through a matrimonial agency). Note: The version I saw, already pricked with a lecturing English narration, was missing Carlo Lizzani's segment on prostitution. In black and white.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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