Totò and Peppino De Filippo, probably the greatest and best-loved comedy duo in Italian cinema, are here pitted against one another. Even when playing bitter rivals, the pairing of their contrasting personalities remains irresistible. A young Sergio Corbucci directs Totò, in the first of a long series of collaborations, and demonstrates to have at once understood the all-important dynamics, giving free rein to two actors who know their craft so well. Totò and Peppino, individually and together, reach exhilarating peaks. The tone of the film swings between a cutting satire on the world of clerical workers and a disjointed Shakespearian parody, from a hilarious comedy of misunderstandings to genuine traditional slapstick.
Two civil servants, Antonio Guardalavecchia and Giuseppe Colabona, compete for the position left vacant by their recently deceased boss. In order to obtain the promotion, they both do everything possible to ingratiate themselves with the government inspector.