Synopsis by Eleanor Mannikka
With a deft guiding hand, director Roberto Rossellini brings out the depths in this study of a man's transformation during the German occupation of Milan. Based on a novel by Indro Montanelli, the story is true. Colonel Mueller (Hannes Messemer) and his cohorts have decided to plant a spy in the Milan prison. They choose a petty thief from the streets who earns his living plying the black-market trade and assign him to the task. He is thrown in jail under the false identity of General della Rovere (Vittorio De Sica) in order to bring the Italian resistance fighters among the prisoners, out into the open. As the fake general slowly makes friends with these men, he becomes a leader of sorts, and this transformation gets him thinking in a different way about himself. This well-wrought drama was given the "Best Foreign Film" award in 1960 by the New York Film Critics, and it won the Golden Lion at the 1959 Venice Film Festival.
change-of-heart, prison, resistance-fighters, undercover, war, black-market, Italian [nationality], thief