Mamma Roma (1962): Pasolini’s Second Film, Mother-Son Drama, Starring Anna Magnani and Franco Citti

The sophomore effort of Pier Paolo Pasolini, after the splashy debut of Accatone, was Mama Roma, a domestic drama starring Anna Magnani, Ettore Garofolo and Franco Citti.

Grade: B

Mamma Roma

Theatrical poster

Pasolini based his screenplay for Mamma Roma on the true case of Marcello Elisei, who had died in prison.

After her pimp Carmine gets married, prostitute Mamma Roma starts new life as a marketer in Rome to enable her 16-year-old son Ettore a better life.

She finds him a job as a waiter by blackmailing a trattoria owner and tries to draw him away from his thieving friends and occasional streetwalker Bruna.

When Mamma Roma is forced back into prostitution by Carmine and Ettore finds out about it, he returns to crime. Caught during a theft in a hospital, Ettore dies in jail from fever. leaving behind his grieving mother.

Pasolini, unhappy with Magnani’s interpretation of the title role, expanded Citti’s role of Carmine, but the production was temporarily halted when Citti was arrested for a petty crime.

On August 31, 1962, Mamma Roma premiered at the Venice Film Festival.

When film was released in the Quattro Fontane Cinema in Rome on Sep 22, 1962, Pasolini was confronted with neo-fascists and got involved in a scuffle.

Mamma Roma also met with criticism from the left,[4] and its domestic box office humble.

Anna Magnani as Mamma Roma
Ettore Garofolo as Ettore
Franco Citti as Carmine
Silvana Corsini as Bruna
Luisa Loiano as Biancofiore
Paolo Volponi as Priest
Luciano Gonini as Zacaria


Directed, written by Pier Paolo Pasolini
Produced by Alfredo Bini
Cinematography Tonino Delli Colli(b/w)
Edited by Nino Baragli

Production company: Arco Film

Distributed by Cineriz

Release date: August 31, 1962 (Italy)

Running time: 106 minutes