The long-awaited U.S. premiere of Dino Risi’s Una Vita Difficile, starring one of the most beloved of all Italian actors, Alberto Sordi (Mafioso, Il Boom, Fellini’s The White Sheik and I Vitelloni, etc.), was greeted with big crowds and admiring reviews when Rialto Pictures opened its restoration in New York last month. Laemmle Theatres opens the film about a resistance fighter-turned-journalist and his wife (Lea Massari) navigating life in post-war Italy on Friday, March 17 at the Royal and Town Center and March 24 at the Monica Film Center and Laemmle Glendale.
The New York Times’ critic A.O. Scott hailed it as “a stellar specimen of commedia all’italiana.” In his review for Air Mail, Michael Sragow proclaimed, “Alberto Sordi triumphs at jet-black comedy…(he’s) Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau in their prime, rolled into one.”
In Italy, Una Vita Difficile has long been cherished as a highlight of the 1950s and 60s golden age of Italian comedy, which also gave the world Big Deal on Madonna Street, Divorce Italian Style, Mafioso, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, and Risi’s own Il Sorpasso (made the year after Una Vita Difficile). While these and others were major arthouse hits in the U.S., Una Vita Difficile was inexplicably never released here…until now.
“It sounds absurd to even contemplate: an unreleased 1961 epic romance starring the legendary Alberto Sordi that tackles the decades after WWII — a mixture of sentiment and grand historic sweep that the Italians always did so well — that’s somehow just getting a U.S. release.” — Bilge Ebiri, New York Magazine
“Risi’s deft seriocomic panorama, from Mussolini’s fall to the rise of the postwar Roman oligarchy…Alberto Sordi triumphs at jet-black comedy when the antihero fails as an idealist, a husband, even as a sell-out. The closest America has come to Sordi is Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau in their prime, rolled into one.” — Michael Sragow, Air Mail