Cinema: Blackshirt Buffoon

The Fascist. "I was born in July, the month Mussolini was born," boasts the bungling Blackshirt corporal (Ugo Tog-nazzi), eager for promotion. His father was a blacksmith like Mussolini's, he adds. And he once walked from Cremona to Rome to see il Duce, but missed him.

Set in 1944, when a nation in defeat was yet to be Yanked from German rule, this sly bit of Italian history mixes its satire with equal parts of compassion, reminiscence and rue. Tognazzi is the perfect dupe, a tragicomic caricature. Spouting patriotic songs and slogans, he is...

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