Another fine melodrama by Raffaello Matarazzo with Amedeo Nazzari and Yvonne Sanson
A film “devised with satanic ability”, set in an enchanting Alpine landscape
Panned by critics upon its release but loved by audiences, today the film is considered one of the milestones of Italian popular cinema
It’s the usual story: Raffaello Matarazzo (with the complicity of screenwriter Aldo De Benedetti) directs Amedeo Nazzari and Yvonne Sanson in a melodrama that enchants and moves the crowds, while critics tear into it, dismissing its passionate romanticism as poisonous banality. Years later, it now appears clear that Matarazzo was not being a moralist. His films resonate with beauty, fear and desire. Allowing yourself to be dragged into one, is akin to giving in to an irresistible sin. In Corriere della Sera newspaper, critic Arturo Lanocita writes that: “Chi è senza peccato… was devised with satanic ability”, before going on to lambast the film as a whole. The film is based on Geneviève, histoire d’une servante by Alphonse de Lamartine, and Matarazzo makes fantastic use of the sumptuous Alpine landscapes, which serve as a perfect backdrop for the scenes set both in Italy and in Canada.
Ex-smuggler Stefano moves to Canada to become a lumberjack, and is married by proxy to Maria, who has stayed behind in a small Italian alpine town. Maria’s sister, Lisetta, falls in love with Dario, the grandson of a countess, and gets pregnant. The countess is against their relationship and manages to break them up. Lisetta dies shortly after giving birth, and due to the scheming of the countess, Maria is believed to be the mother. She is charged with abandoning the child and is imprisoned. Years later, Stefano returns from Canada, now a rich man. Maria has finished her prison sentence and is living a hard life. Will they manage to get back together?