Four Days of Naples, The (1962): Italy’s Oscar Nominee, Tale of Resistance to the Nazis

Directed by Nanny Loy (who’s also one of the screenwriters), The Four Days of Naples is a powerfully compelling drama of the Neapolitan resistance to the Nazis in 1943.

Before the tale begins, a title card announces: “Inspired by real events.”  In the course of the next two hours, we get an authentically detailed chronicle of daily life in Naples during the German occupation: the curfew, the arbitrary arrests of men, the street-fighting, the separation of parents and children, the poverty of families, the happy return of physically and mentally tired soldiers their worried wives.

Among many forceful scenes is one depicting a mass demonstration by women who angrily charge at the Nazi soldiers: “Give us back our men!”

Back home, austerity rules. A mother gives a small apple to her starving young son, while telling him, “Don’t eat it by yourself.”

Some of the Neapolitan men try to escape by boat to Sorrento, only to be shot at like flies by the Germans; few survive by jumping into the water.

Though scripted, the dialogue feels natural and spontaneous, and the film’ black-and-white visuals approximate a documentary.

Oscar Nominations: 2

Best Foreign Language Film

Screenplay (Original): Pasquale Festa Campanile, Massiosa, Nanni Loy, Vasco Pratolini, and Carlo Bernri

Oscar Awards: None

Oscar Context:

The winner of the Original Screenplay Oscar was James R. Webb for the Western, “How the West Was Won,” which was also nominated for Best Picture

The French feature “Sundays and Cybele” won the Foreign Language Oscar in a contest that included “Electra” from Greece, “The Keeper of Promises” (aka “The Given World”) from Brazil, and “Tlayucan” from Mexico.