Senza Pietà (1948)

Genres - Drama, War  |   Sub-Genres - War Drama  |   Run Time - 90 min.  |   Countries - Italy  |  
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Filmed in 1948 as Senza Pieta, this Alberto Lattuada-directed effort came to America the following year as Without Pity. The film's sensitive subject matter caused problems in distribution and approval; Lattuada was never known to shirk from a sociopolitical statement, even when it meant loss of revenue overseas. The plot is based on an actual postwar dilemma: in Northern Italy, dozens of black American GIs chose to go AWOL rather than return to a racially divided United States. John Kitzmiller plays an occupation soldier named Jerry, who decides to remain in Italy when he falls in love with a blonde, Caucasian local girl named Angela (Carla Del Poggio). Reviewers in 1949 felt that Lattuada exercised poor taste in depicting the interracial romance: while these scenes cannot realistically be described as offensive when seen today, they are still quite frank by 1940s standards. A "regular" in Italian neorealist films, Michigan-born black actor John Kitzmiller went on to win a Cannes Film Festival award for his performance in 1957's Sergeant Jim; James Bond fans will remember Kitzmiller as "Quarrel" in Dr. No (1962).

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Keywords

Black [race], interracial, Italy, love, racial-tension, segregation, soldier, race-relations