Dangerous Characters (1987)

Run Time - 104 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom   |  
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Between 1900 and 1945, 30,000 Italians fled their country and took refuge in Britain. They were fleeing poverty and political disruptions of all kinds. Until Mussolini took over Italy in 1922, the country was famous for falling apart faster than anyone could fix it. This documentary recounts the reasons for this influx, how the refugees were received in Britain, and why they began returning to their home country. When Mussolini came to power, he was well regarded by the British and the rest of the world, and anti-fascist activists began being harassed rather than being permitted to speak and be listened to. Mussolini's operatives were given free rein among the immigrants, and many suffered beatings and worse. Meanwhile, fascist youth camps and paramilitary schools were opened in Britain with the knowledge and consent of the British government. When Italy declared war on Britain, Britain began to view the political sentiments of the Italians in its midst with great suspicion, and people of all persuasions were spied upon and many were detained. With a mix of archival film footage, photographs, and interviews with scholars and survivors, the tales of this tumultuous time in British and Italian relations are recounted.