Cast & Crew
Set in a fishing village off Italy's Dalmatian coast, under a brilliant, turquoise sky, Squarcio is a rogue fisherman who manages to feed his family by tossing bombs into the water to kill the maximum number of fish. When a new chief of police puts Squarcio's illegal exploits under closer scrutiny, his livelihood is threatened.
Eraldo Da Roma
Ennio De Concini
Franco Selinas Pontecorvo
The Wide Blue Road
The Wide Blue Road is heavily influenced by the Italian neorealism movement, particularly the films of Roberto Rossellini, but it also predates the French New Wave of the late fifties in its stylistic approach to the social and political issues of its story. On the surface, the film is a beautifully photographed melodrama about conflicts within a peasant fishing village, but underneath is another scenario that pits capitalist ingenuity against Communist collectivism. Regardless of his intentions, Pontecorvo reportedly was very disappointed with his first feature, saying in a New York Times interview with Bill Desowitz, "I was so sad that it didn't turn out the way I wanted. I wanted to shoot it in black and white, and I felt Alida (Valli) was too exquisite to play the wife of a fisherman, and I felt it had too much melodrama. But Rossellini told me: 'Don't be stupid! This is only your first film. It's not that bad. There will be more.'" Pontecorvo would go on to make such controversial films as Kapo (1960), which was set in a Polish concentration camp; the internationally acclaimed The Battle of Algiers; and Burn! (1969), starring Marlon Brando as a diplomat trying to suppress a slave revolt on a Portuguese-controlled Caribbean island. Yet, despite Pontecorvo's reservations about The Wide Blue Road, the film has recently developed some passionate supporters, among them director Jonathan Demme, who said, "the use of locations and the acting is extraordinary. This is no curio; this is a great, great tragic story. It brought me to tears. And what can you say about Yves? He was such an ultra-testosterone romantic male. I just couldn't believe it when I heard that the film had never been distributed in the U.S."
For anyone unfamiliar with French actor/singer Yves Montand, The Wide Blue Road is a great introduction to this magnetic screen presence. While deservedly famous for his macho portrayal of a dynamite-carrying truck driver in The Wages of Fear (1953), Pontecorvo's film is an even better showcase for Montand's talents. Interestingly enough, the actor's own background is very close to the outsider character he plays in The Wide Blue Road: the son of Italian immigrants living in France, Montand grew up in poverty and supported himself with a variety of occupations - busboy, bartender, factory laborer - before gaining fame as a chansonnier in Paris under the "sponsorship" of internationally renown singer Edith Piaf.
Pontecorvo recalls that during the filming of The Wide Blue Road, "Yves was such a showman. He was not only very patient with me, but he served as my assistant. He would do anything you asked. He couldn't swim and was afraid at first, but we attached a rope to him and he made it look so easy with that graceful body of his." Graceful might not be the best word to describe Montand's famous dog-paddling scene but everything else he does in the film looks effortless, and inspired New York Times critic Stephen Holden to write that Montand gives "a star performance radiant with macho glamour." In addition to Montand and the beautiful Alida Valli, as his wife, Rosetta, The Wide Blue Road also features an early performance by Mario Girotti who would later change his name to Terence Hill and become an international star, thanks to his appearances in such popular spaghetti Westerns as They Call Me Trinity (1970) and My Name Is Nobody (1973).
Producer: Maleno Malenotti
Director: Gillo Pontecorvo
Screenplay: Gillo Pontecorvo, Franco Solinas (book)
Costume Design: Lucia Mirisola
Film Editing: Eraldo Da Roma
Original Music: Carlo Franci
Cast: Yves Montand (Squarcio), Alida Valli (Rosetta), Francisco Rabal (Salvatore), Peter Carsten (Riva), Umberto Spadaro (Gaspare), Mario Girotti, aka Terence Hill (Renato), Federica Ranchi (Diana).
by Jeff Stafford
The Wide Blue Road
Restorations - The Wide Blue Road
Turner Classic Movies will present the U.S. television premiere of the critically acclaimed and recently restored 1957 Italian film LA GRANDE STRADA AZZURRA (THE WIDE BLUE ROAD) on Oct. 13, at 8 p.m. ET as part of a tribute to the film's star, Yves Montand, on what would have been his 80th birthday. The tribute will also include two of the actor's other films.
Presented by Jonathan Demme and Dustin Hoffman, THE WIDE BLUE ROAD was recently restored by Milestone Film & Video, with funding from TCM and is also the debut film of director Gillo Pontecorvo, best known for his moive, Battle of Algiers (1965). THE WIDE BLUE ROAD is the story of a poor Italian fisherman's struggle to feed his family. On the surface, this deceptively simple story is of an outlaw fisherman's struggle to keep his livelihood and his family together by using illegal fishing techniques, but a closer look reveals the communist views of its creators. The film also serves as a showcase for Montand's acting expertise, as he inhabits the complex character of Squarciò, a fisherman seeking to increase his catch by bombing for fish instead of netting them.
THE WIDE BLUE ROAD will be followed by GOODBYE AGAIN (1961) at 11 p.m., featuring Montand as part of a love triangle with Ingrid Bergman and Anthony Perkins. John Frankenheimer's GRAND PRIX (1966), at 1:15 a.m. ends the festival with Montand co-starring with James Garner and Eva Marie Saint in the elite, high stakes world of the race car circuit.
THE RETURN OF A JEAN-LUC GODARD MASTERPIECE
At long last someone has taken the effort to restore one of Jean-Luc Godard's seminal films of the sixties - Band of Outsiders. Accessible even to non-fans of the French filmmaker, this 1964 release looks just as fresh, spontanteous, and inventive as it did upon its original release. On the surface, the plot is deceptively simple: two students, Arthur (Claude Brasseur) and Franz (Sami Frey), befriend their new classmate, Odile (Anna Karina). A rapid chain of events follows sparked by Odile's confession that she lives with her aunt in a villa that houses a hidden fortune. Like kids playing movie gangsters, the trio plot to steal the money but soon discover that their scheme is no match for the grim reality that awaits them.
Loosely based on Fools' Gold, an American crime novel of the fifties written by Dolores Hitchens, Band of Outsiders works on one level as a playful homage to B-movies while at the same time critiquing the dangers of movie-fed fantasies. Even today, the film remains consistently unpredictable: characters occasionally address the camera, jump cuts and unusual camera angles accent the erratic, slapdash behavior of the three principals, and the sombre, grey cinematography by Raoul Coutard often resembles the look of an Arget photograph. Of the many famous set pieces, the Madison dance scene is easily the most celebrated with Karina, Brasseur, and Frey unexpectedly going into a line dance at a small bohemian cafe. If you're a Francophile, you'll enjoy Godard's use of Parisian locations as much as his Gallic re-working of Hollywood cliches. Much of Band of Outsiders was shot in the working-class neighborhoods east of the Bastille and along the Marne River but there are also such familiar Parisian sights as the Metro, billboards, cafes, and, of course, the Louvre, which figures prominently in one madcap sequence.
Thanks to Rialto, who brought us the original director's cut of Fellini's Nights of Cabiria (1957) a few years back, Band of Outsiders is being distributed theatrically in a beautiful new 35mm print which accents the overcast, wintry look of the film (It was shot in February and March). It was recently screened in New York City at the Film Forum where it had critics rhapsodizing about its poetic qualities all over again. Amy Taubin of The Village Voice wrote "Band of Outsiders is less nostalgic for the past then it's heartbroken by the present - by the knowledge that the last traces of the world of Verlaine and Rimbaud, of Claude Renoir, the father, and Jean Renoir, the son, are about to be obiterated by the onrush of '60s consumer capitalism." Charles Taylor of Salon.com said, "We never feel more complicity in "Band of Outsiders" than we do when Karina, addressing the camera, says, "My heart goes out at the sight of you." Odile may be speaking about the boys she loves; Karina may have directed the line to her then-husband behind the camera. Today, she seems to be speaking directly to those of us in the audience whose lives - and fantasy lives - have been dominated by the movies, who still love them with the ardor of a first romance, even as we're convinced that there has to be something more."
With a little luck, Band of Outsiders might spark enough interest in Godard to inspire Rialto or another enterprising distributor to restore other early works by the director. At any rate, if you're never seen a Godard film before, this is a great place to begin.
By Jeff Stafford
BOB LE FLAMBEUR
Often cited as one of the most influential filmmakers of postwar France, whose work anticipated the look and style of the French New Wave, Jean-Pierre Melville is finally starting to receive some belated international recognition for his films. Bob Le Flambeur (1956) is currently enjoying a revival in major cities across the U.S. and several of his other films have recently been remastered and released on VHS and DVD.
Bob Le Flambeur was Melville's fourth feature and a distinct departure from his earlier adaptation of literary classics like Jean Vercors' Le Silence de la Mer (1947) and Jean Cocteau's Les Enfants Terribles (1950). The film is a detailed depiction (strikingly photographed in black and white) of the robbery of the Casino de Deauville's bank vault on the eve of the French Grand Prix. Melville was first approached with the story idea for Bob Le Flambeur just prior to seeing John Huston's The Asphalt Junge (1950). "After I had seen Huston's masterpiece," Melville told interviewer Rui Nogueira, "I could no longer deal, either dramatically or tragically, with the preparation and execution of a robbery. So I decided to reshape my scenario completely and turn it into a light-hearted film. Bob Le Flambeur is not a pure policier, but a comedy of manners."
Even at the time of its original release, Bob Le Flambeur was referred to as 'a love letter to Paris which no longer exists,' particularly in its evocative views of the Montmartre neighborhood. The film is just as atmospheric and beguiling today and has been championed by such critics as J. Hoberman of the Village Voice who called it, "The cinematic birth of the cool! Melville's drollest, most likable gangster movie!....a superb riff with a boffo finale!" The newly restored print of Bob Le Flambeur, which recently appeared at the Film Forum in New York City, features newly translated sub-titles by Lenny Borger, who did such a wonderful job on the recent restoration of Rififi (1955). With any luck, Bob Le Flambeur will get a release on home video and DVD later this year. In the meantime, you should check out Le Doulos (1961), Le Samourai (1967) and Un Flic (1971). There is also the possibility that Rialto, who distributed the original cut of Fellini's Nights of Cabiria (1957) a few years back, will be releasing a restored version of Melville's Le Cercle Rouge (1970) later this year.
APOCALYPSE NOW REDUX
Maybe you've heard the news that Francis Ford Coppola has re-edited an extra hour of material back into Apocalypse Now (this version premiered at the Cannes festival with a U.S. release planned for later this summer entitled Apocalypse Now Redux). What's new in Francis Ford Coppola's restored version? Here are a few highlights, culled from the Miramax web site: The much-discussed French plantation sequence, which includes a riverside encounter, the funeral of Clean, a rancorous dinner, and Willard's seduction of (and by) Roxanne, a young French widow (played by Aurore Clement). At the dinner, the patriarch of the French plantation, Hubert deMorais (played by the late Christian Marquand) asks rhetorically: "Why do we stay here? It keeps our family together. We fight to keep what is ours. You Americans fight for the biggest nothing in history." This sequence, Coppola says,"captures an exotic yearning, groping for long-vanished ideals and a crumbling way of life that presages and essentially predicts the folly of America's experience in Vietnam. These characters are sort of ghosts like Bunuel has ghosts: people who are trapped in their own thinking from years ago."
An expanded Playboy playmates sequence. Coppola remembers: "This was never even in the assembly because it was shot during the typhoon when we had to stop shooting, and the scene was never completed. But in this new version Walter found a way to get in and out of the sequence; In the beginning of the sequence, we learn that the Playboy helicopter has run out of fuel and landed at a remote Medevac base along the river. As Willard
leaves the boat, the chief (Albert Hall) asks: "Captain, are you giving away our fuel for a Playmate of the Month."; Willard replies: "No, Playmate of the Year, chief." Coppola says: "In their way, the girls are the corresponding characters of those young boys on the boat, except they're being exploited in sexual ways. But it's the same thing, you know how they're being consumed; used up by a society that calls itself moral and yet isn't."
A new scene with Marlon Brando: "Don't try to escape, or you'll be killed," Kurtz tells Willard in their first meeting. Kurtz, holding Willard captive in a metal shed, quotes an American intelligence analyst recently returned to Vietnam to sound out the situation for President Nixon. "He told the President last week that: 'Things felt much better, and smelled much better over there.'; How do they smell to you, soldier?" Kurtz asks his charge. The deletion of this scene was one of the last cuts the filmmakers made in 1979, in the interest of time. Restoring this philosophical scene, Murch says, "sets up the last scene in the film much more effectively."
All of this talk about Apocalypse Now Redux started us wondering about films that exist in two versions. Sure there are countless films that were slightly different in America and overseas (such as Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train), had minor trims for content (Robocop), were reworked by the director (The Wild Bunch) or other similar oddities (Abbott and Costello's first film One Night in the Tropics was for years missing an entire scene that triggered the plot!). But what really got us thinking are films that can be seen in your choice of Version A or Version B. Our crack TCM researchers came up with the following:
The Big Sleep - Made right at the tail end of World War II, this Humphrey Bogart classic was held up by the studio because they had a glut of films to release. In the meantime, though, co-star Lauren Bacall lept from new face to major star which, along with some other behind-the-scenes maneuvering, resulted in the filming of new material and some re-editing to emphasize her new status. This reworking is the familiar one but the original was recently released to the public. You can see both versions on TCM.
The Godfather - Coppola isn't new to re-editing. For a TV showing of the first two Godfather films he put all the material into chronological sequence and added deleted material to make one giant epic called The Godfather Saga. Then that big saga was again slightly re-edited and released on video as The Godfather Epic. Then after the third film appeared, that too was edited into the chronological story for a video set called The Godfather Trilogy. And of course all the films are also available separately.
Passion of Joan of Arc - Here's one that's even more complicated than the Godfather films. This 1928 classic was immediately denounced by censors which resulted in some small cuts but the real tragedy occurred when the negative and most of the prints were destroyed in a laboratory fire. Director Carl Theodor Dreyer reconstructed another negative using outtakes and other surviving material but guess what? That too burned up in a fire. Apparently still floating around at the time were prints of these two versions but they seem to have been chopped up or simply destroyed. In the early '30s the film was trimmed to almost an hour and had voice-overs added while during the next decade came a poorly regarded "restoration" and then in 1951 there was yet another version done with additional dubious shots added. Finally 1981 brought a wonderful surprise. A Norweigan mental hospital discovered that it had a print of Dreyer's original cut stored literally in one of their closets. This was restored to as much of its full glory as possible and can be seen on TCM.
Touch of Evil - Orson Welles' struggles with the studios are legendary and perhaps only the butchering of The Magnificent Ambersons rivals his travails with this one. A 1958 film noir classic, Touch of Evil apparently so horrified the studio that they looked for a way to cut their losses. So they took a 108 minute version prepared for preview screenings that Welles was still working on, cut it down to 95 minutes and dumped that into theatres. For years, this was all that was available until the preview version quietly appeared on video in the 1980s. But that wasn't enough. Welles had prepared a 58-page memo about how envisioned the film, information that guided a 1998 revision by restoration expert Rick Schmidlin which may be as close as we're likely to get to Welles' intentions. So where does this leave us? Three different versions of the same film, none of them definitive or a "director's cut" and all three available at one time or another on video (though unfortunately only the revision is on DVD).
The Big Sky - Maybe you've noticed that when TCM shows Howard Hawks' classic Western (chosen by critic Jonathan Rosenbaum as one of the 100 greatest American films) it runs about 20 minutes longer than most reference book listings and the video release. That's because the material was trimmed shortly after release and practically unseen until our airings.
Black Sunday - A good example of how small changes can really alter a film is Mario Bava's classic horror film. It's a subtle and atmospheric story (adapted from the same Gogol tale used for the cult Russian film Vij) but marketed almost as kiddie fare in the U.S. The grown-up dialogue was watered down, the moody music replaced by a typically schlocky Les Baxter score, and numerous small edits were made to protect sensitive Americans. Recently, though, the original version appeared on DVD and can be seen for the striking visual experience it really is. (An even more extreme revision exists in Bava's career. After his oblique, dream-like film Lisa and the Devil was considered unreleasable it was taken over by the producer and so drastically reworked with new material that the story turned out quite different. That version was released as House of Exorcism to capitalize on that trend but both can now be found on DVD.)
Restorations - The Wide Blue Road
The Wide Blue Road
"A strapping Yves Montand and the Adriatic Ocean are the heart and soul of The Wide Blue Road, Gillo Pontecorvo's passionate, literally shimmering movie." -
Desson Howe, Washington Post
For more information about The Wide Blue Road, visit the distributor's web site at Milestone Films. To purchase a copy of The Wide Blue Road, visit TCM Shopping.
The Wide Blue Road
Released in United States August 10, 2001
Released in United States Summer June 6, 2001
Feature directorial debut for Gillo Pontecorvo.
Released in United States Summer June 6, 2001
Released in United States August 10, 2001 (Nuart; Los Angeles)