Synopsis by Eleanor Mannikka
In this sympathetic biography of Claretta Petacci, Benito Mussolini's mistress of 10 years, the Petacci family is a primary source of information -- which introduces a definite bias on how she is viewed. Claretta met Mussolini in the mid-'30s and remained with him after he was dismissed in 1943 by King Victor Emmanuel (American and Allied forces invaded Sicily and started north to Rome at that time). Claretta's family also fled to the north, where Mussolini was set up in a puppet dictatorship by the Germans until the end of the war. Photographs of Mussolini and Claretta hanging from a gas-station pole in 1945 while crowds stare at their bodies were disseminated worldwide, yet information on them has been kept in the classified files of the Italian government. In this docudrama, Claretta is played by Claudia Cardinale and Claretta's younger sister Miriam Petacci, still alive in 1984, plays herself as she "meets" with a television reporter (Catherine Spaak) at Claretta's tomb to talk about her famous sister's life. Claretta and Mussolini (Gabriele D'Annunzio) first get together on the estate of a poet who supported Mussolini and were not separated once they became lovers. U.S. Army newsreels add verisimilitude to the story, but the script is too superficial and the treatment too overtly sentimental to sustain interest and may even alienate some viewers.