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The Italian Cinema and the Italian Working Class

  • Ruth Ben-Ghiat (a1)
    • Published online: 09 January 2002

This essay examines representations of the Italian working class from the 1930s through the 1970s. I analyze four films produced at four crucial moments in Italian labor and film history (Gli uomini, che mascalzoni!, Mario Camerini, 1932; Ladri di biciclette, Vittorio De Sica, 1946; Rocco e i suoi fratelli, Luchino Visconti, 1960; and Mimì metallurgico ferito nell'onore, Lina Wertmuller, 1972). I discuss the specific political climates that shaped these films' production and reception, paying attention to the role workers were to play as audiences in Communist and Catholic strategies of mass organization. I also highlight continuities of theme and attitude in Italian movies about the working class. A preoccupation with the maintenance of family structures links films by Camerini, De Sica, and Visconti—directors of different cinematic styles, political affiliations, and generations. Only after 1968 do directors such as Wertmuller subject such mindsets and their attendant social practices to sustained critique.

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International Labor and Working-Class History
  • ISSN: 0147-5479
  • EISSN: 1471-6445
  • URL: /core/journals/international-labor-and-working-class-history
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