Jules Dassin directs a film that lies beyond any classification
Comedy, allegory, musical fantasy, social criticism: an explosive mix turned into a masterpiece
Gina Lollobrigida and Marcello Mastroianni have never looked better
American director Jules Dassin, blacklisted in his homeland during the McCarthy witch-hunts, is primarily remembered today for his noirs, which were beautiful, shocking, desperate, full of realism, and contributed to the golden age of the genre. La legge is an excellent confirmation of his genius. The film is at once a complex allegory, an accurate documentation of a place (Carpino, in the Gargano region), a sensual melodrama (thanks to the presence of Gina Lollobrigida), a musical comedy, and a strong social criticism with moments of severe cruelty. Films defined as impossible to classify are usually a confused mess. In this case, at least one classification can be made: masterpiece. It also features an extraordinary cast.
“The Law” is the name of a game played in taverns, where a boss is chosen and commands for as long as there is wine left in the pitcher. Life in the village follows a similar theme, where whoever has muscle and money makes the rules for everyone else. In the middle of all this, the shrewd and sensual Marietta is a woman many of the men folk would like to conquer in the name of “The Law”. But she is in love with an outsider, a young agronomist…