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Long Night in 1943

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

La lunga notte del '43
Gino Cervi and Enrico Maria Salerno in a scene of the movie
Directed byFlorestano Vancini
Written byFlorestano Vancini
Ennio De Concini
Pier Paolo Pasolini
Based onnovel by Giorgio Bassani
Produced byTonino Cervi
Alessandro Jacovoni
StarringEnrico Maria Salerno
Belinda Lee
Gabriele Ferzetti
Gino Cervi
Andrea Checchi
CinematographyCarlo Di Palma
Edited byNino Baragli
Music byCarlo Rustichelli
Ajace Produzioni Cinematografiche
Euro International Film (EIA)
Distributed byEuro International Film
Release date
Running time
110 minutes

Long Night in 1943 is an Italian film of 1960 set in Ferrara, in the Italian Social Republic Nazi puppet state during the late stages of WW2. It was directed by Florestano Vancini and adapted by Vancini, Ennio De Concini and Pier Paolo Pasolini from a short story by Giorgio Bassani. The film stars Enrico Maria Salerno, Gino Cervi, Belinda Lee, Gabriele Ferzetti and Andrea Checchi.

It was also known as The Long Night of '43 or It Happened in '43. The original Italian title was La lunga notte del '43.

In 2008 the film was selected to enter the list of the "100 Italian films to be saved".[1][2][3]


In a town in Ferrara during the year 1943, a pharmacist, Pino, is permanently crippled and unable to move without crutches. He observes the town's activities from his upstairs window while his lonely wife Anna begins an affair with an old friend, Franco, a deserter from the army.

Local Fascist leader Carlo Aretusi, better known as 'Sciagura' ('Calamity'), wants to stage an assassination attempt to get rid of his opponents in the Fascist party. He intends on blaming it on some resistance supporters. Among them is Franco's father.

On the night of 15 December, while Anna is out meeting Franco, Sciagura orders the usual suspects to be shot in the night against the wall of Estense Castle. Pino can see everything from his window but doesn't say a word.

Anna returns from Franco's home to find the bodies of the murder victims lying where they fell in the street, and confronts Pino. Anna is rejected by Franco and leaves town.

The townspeople follow the fascists into the town square for a rally to celebrate the defeat of 'traitors'.

It is revealed Pino's disability is due to syphilis, caught after participating in the March on Rome, when Sciagura forced him at gunpoint into a brothel.

Years later, after the war, Franco returns to the town with his wife (not Anna) and son, and shows them a plaque where his father was killed. He runs into Sciagura, who seems happy and content and not regretful over what he has done. He says Franco looks like his father.



The film was based on a 1955 novella by Giorgio Bassani. This was based on the real murder of eleven people in Ferrara on 15 November 1943 at Estense Castle; they were killed by Fascists in response to the assassination of a Fascist leader Igino Ghisellini.[4][5][6]

The film was produced by Tonio Cervi who gave Bernardo Bertolucci his first chance to direct a film and was producer of the first films in colour by Michelangelo Antonioni, Federico Fellini and Francesco Rosi. Long Night in 1943 was the directorial debut of documentary maker Florestano Vancini.[7] It was one of a number of Italian movies made around this period to deal with World War Two.[8][9] Filming took place in Italy in early 1960.[10]

According to the Guardian "Tonino's father played the role of a fascist bully, causing some controversy among those who identified him with the communist antagonist of Don Camillo.:[7]

The movie was a breakthrough credit for cinematographer Carlo di Palma.[11]


Variety called it "a well made straightfoward vehicle which brings to life once more some of the more, dramatic moments in recent Italian history... Major impact, however, is on the local ticketbuyer who is able to catch nuances and the import of dialog, scenes, and action. Export values. appear to indicate specialized slotting only." It said the director had "a good feeling for period atmosphere" but said the film "keys a certain lack of drama which results in long stretches of tedium where crisper handling would have won a wider audience. For a production treating such heartfelt problems, the pic rarely grips nor is the illicit. love affair moving or believable." "[12]

According to an academic paper, "The ending of the film emphasises the erasure of Pino and Anna, the disabled and sexually transgressive witnesses who vanish from the screen and from the story without ever telling what they have seen. But it also shows the complicated interplay of memory and amnesia that allows the murder victims to be memorialised... [and] calls into question the shiny new 'normality' of boom-time Italy and suggests that it rests on a collective and wilful failure to remember the past.}[4]

Filmink said Lee was "excellent".[13]


At the 1960 Venice Film Festival, the film won Vancini the award for Best First Work and a nomination for the Golden Lion (losing out to Le Passage du Rhin).[14][15]

Enrico Maria Salerno won a Silver Ribbon for Best Supporting Actor at the 1961 Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists awards.


  1. ^ Massimo Bertarelli, Il cinema italiano in 100 film: i 100 film da salvare, Gremese Editore, 2004, ISBN 88-8440-340-5.
  2. ^ Massimo Borriello (4 March 2008). "Cento film e un'Italia da non dimenticare". Movieplayer. Retrieved 19 April 2013.
  3. ^ "Ecco i cento film italiani da salvare". Corriere della Sera. 28 February 2008. Retrieved 19 April 2013.
  4. ^ a b Disappearing acts: disability, gender, and the memory of Fascism in Italian film Hill, Sarah Patricia. Modern Italy : Journal of the Association for the Study of Modern Italy; Abingdon Vol. 22, Iss. 2, (May 2017): 155-166.
  5. ^ SHORTER REVIEWS (Book Review) New Statesman and Nation; London Vol. 50, Iss. 1269, (Jul 2, 1955): 23.
  6. ^ "Massacre at the Castle". Ferrare Museum.
  7. ^ a b Obituary: Tonino Cervi: Producer who played a pivotal role in the careers of Bertolucci, Pasolini, Antonioni, Fellini and Rosi Lane, John Francis. The Guardian; London (UK) [London (UK)]04 Apr 2002: 1.22.
  8. ^ FILMS ALONG THE TIBER: Young Director Steps Into Spotlight -- Wartime Themes Gain Favor By ROBERT F. HAWKINS. New York Times 28 Aug 1960: X7.
  9. ^ The Year of "La Dolce Vita" Morandini, Morando. Sight and Sound; London Vol. 29, Iss. 3, (Summer 1960): 123.
  10. ^ "Our romance is over, says Belinda". Daily Mail (London, England). December 11, 1959. p. 1.
  11. ^ Obituary of Carlo Di Palma Lighting cameraman who shot Antonioni's Blow-Up and filmed Woody Allen's pictures of the 1980s and 1990s The Daily Telegraph 17 July 2004: 25.
  12. ^ "Long Night of 1943". Variety. 7 September 1960. pp. 6, 15.
  13. ^ Vagg, Stephen (September 7, 2020). "A Tale of Two Blondes: Diana Dors and Belinda Lee". Filmink.
  14. ^ Obituaries: FLORESTANO VANCINI Day, Michael. Variety; Los Angeles Vol. 412, Iss. 7, (Sep 29-Oct 5, 2008): 71
  15. ^ The Festivals: Venice: Edinburgh: Berlin Sight and Sound; London Vol. 29, Iss. 4, (Fall 1960): 184.

External links

This page was last edited on 30 September 2021, at 20:55
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