Written by: Michael Den Boer on March 21st, 2007
Theatrical Release Dates: Italy, 1956
Director: Pietro Germi
Cast:Pietro Germi, Luisa Della Noce, Sylva Koscina, Saro Urzì, Carlo Giuffrè
DVD Released: June 28th, 2005
Approximate Running Time: 110 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Full Frame
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Italian
DVD Release: No Shame Films
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $29.95
Synopsis: Andrea Marcocci (Pietro Germi) has drinking problem which slowly starts to tear apart his family. One day he loses his job a railroad man when he accidentally hits a man on the tracks and later that same day he makes as second mistake when he misses a light nearly causes his train to crash into another train. Knowing nothing but the railroad and wanting desperately to get his old job back. He crosses the line when his former co-workers go on strike. His friends all turn their back on him for working as a scab and this shame only further pushed him into a deeper alcoholic abyss.
Director Pietro Germi is probably best known for his films Divorce – Italian Style or The Facts of Murder. Before he made both of these films he made what many regard as his best film the 1956 film The Railroad Man. Besides directing The Railroad Man Pietro Germi would also help writes its screenplay and take on the role of its main character Andrea Marcocci. This may have not been the first time a director took on such a pivotal role in a film a he also directed and yet there is something other worldly about Pietro Germi’s performance as Andrea Marcocci. He perfectly hits all the rights beats as Andrea slowly drifts further away into an alcoholic haze. His performance is subtitle never over dramatic further helping make the character sympathetic despite his plight.
One underlying theme through out the film is fate an how life can change if you are a moment to late like when Andrea stays to long at a bar drinking on Christmas and the next day when he is sober he blames himself for his daughters miscarriage. The screenplay is so well written and each character is given equal time with their own story line. Marcello Marcocci is the lazy son who never works who owes some shady people on the side some money. Marcello is a great character who real demon is not his unwillingness to work but his fear of becoming his father. Sara Marcocci is the ever reliable and faithful wife who never waivers in her love for Andrea. Giulia Marcocci is the daughter who is in a loveless marriage and is having an affair with another man. The least developed character is the youngest son Sandro Marcocci who in many ways is the person telling the story since most of the film is seen through his eyes or told through his narration.
The film is flawlessly edited and beautifully photographed. Pietro Germi cleverly mixes family tragedy with social commentary. Carlo Rustichelli score perfectly captures the mood of the film especially the main title theme which pops up through out the film. The acting is good to excellent with the best performances being Pietro Germi and Saro Urzì who plays Gigi Liverani, Andrea’s closest friend. The film is a very dark depressing affair that fortunately has a more upbeat conclusion that makes all the tragedy that comes before it worthwhile. Ultimately The Railroad Man is one of those rare cinematic instances in which a filmmaker is able to make a film that is something far greater and deeper in subtext then your standard film which is merely made to entertain the masses.
No Shame presents for the first time ever in America on DVD The Railroad Man. The transfer was sourced from the vault negative and the image is presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Print Damage is minimal with a few instances where it becomes noticeable but never distracting. Black levels look exceptional and details look razor sharp through out. This title like the first batch of titles released by No Shame is interlaced and while I had no ghosting problems some DVD players ghosting might be more noticeable.
This release comes with one audio option a Dolby Digital mono mix in the films original Italian language. Outside of some minor instances of hiss the sound is clean with dialog that is easy to follow. Music and effects sound evenly balanced and robust. Removable English subtitles have been included that are easy to read and follow.
The extras for this release have been spread out over two DVD’s with Extras on disc one including the films original trailer and a poster/still gallery.
Extras on disc two include never before seen screen-tests for the film which are about ten minutes of footage. The main extra for this release is an eighty four minute documentary titled “Pietro Germi, a Classic in his own right” which includes comments/interviews with (directors) Mario Monicelli, Giuseppe Tornatore & Damiano Damiani, (screenwriters) Luciano Vincenzoni & Tullio Pinelli, (editor) Sergio Montanari, (composer) Carlo Rustichelli, (cinematographer) Aiace Parolin, (actresses) Franca Bettoia & Silvana Pampanini, (producer) Alfredo Bini. Everyone interviewed helps paint a vivid portrait of a fascinating filmmaker and the quality of the comments made make this one of the best and most interesting extras on any No Shame release to date.
Also included with this release is a collectable booklet that comes with a bio/filmography for Pietro Germi that was written by Bruno Di Marino.
Pietro Germi’s is truly a masterpiece that deserves a wider audience and except for the minor interlacing issue No Shame’s DVD release is nearly flawless presentation that is a must have purchase for all fans of Italian Neo-realism cinema.