A fine historical reconstruction that mixes drama and comedy, set in America at the end of the 19th century, the promised land for Italian emigrants
Adriano Celentano in one of his most complex roles, giving a natural and charismatic portrayal of a young Neapolitan immigrant
From farce to tragedy, from comedy to gangster film, from a hostile grey New York to the bright lights of the cabaret: L’emigrante displays a wide range of styles without ever losing focus. The reconstruction of late 19th century New York is highly convincing (giving us short and insightful glances into the lives of Italian immigrants in the USA), and there is also a rich selection of Neapolitan songs. Naturally, it is all held together by Adriano Celentano’s charismatic personality. He convincingly imitates the Neapolitan accent and inflections, and manages not to get lost in the film’s complex texture. The radiant Claudia Mori co-stars. Lino Toffolo deserves a special mention in the comic role of a plotting anarchist who is soon arrested.
At the end of the 19th century, Peppino escapes military conscription by dressing as a woman and hopping on a ship from Naples to New York. On board, he meets Rosita, who is heading to America to become a cabaret performer, with the help of Mafia boss Don Nicolone. Once in America, Peppino tries to find his father, who emigrated 20 years earlier but has not contacted the family since. After trying his hand at some odd jobs, the young man joins Don Nicolone’s criminal gang and eventually gets close to the boss. However, that’s when his troubles really begin. In the end, he manages to make it back to Italy with his beloved Rosita.