An absolute classic heist comedy, a long time before the Ocean’s series
The city of Naples plays a headlining role
Dino Risi scales the heights of surreal comedy, with the precision of a mad watchmaker
A comedy classic. Just comedy, and that’s more than enough, no need to add “Italian-style”. The robbery planned by a group of poor souls (who else?), has more than one connection to Mario Monicelli’s I soliti ignoti (even Totò makes an appearance), but with at least two fundamental differences: it far more clearly tips its hat to French and American gangster films (although it still retains an air of fun); and its setting, Naples, with the city itself playing a major role in this film. A perfect example of this is the robbery sequence, which is punctuated by the rhythms of the Neapolitan Song Contest being held the same evening that has the eyes of the entire population glued to their TV sets. It is just one of the many moments that allow this film to scale heights of surreal comedy genius. Dino Risi reins in the material with the precision of a mad watchmaker. A resounding success, and not only in Italy.
Three American criminals arrive in Naples intent on stealing the treasure of San Gennaro and ask for help from Dudù, a local con-man. Leading a rather dishevelled band, they consult the saint’s statue before embarking on their quest. The response seems positive, and so the hit can take place. Do you think everything will go according to plan?