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A Special Day (Una giornata particolare) is a 1977 film from Italy directed by Ettore Scola.

It stars Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni in one of the thirteen films they made together. It is set on May 8, 1938, the day of Adolf Hitler's state visit to Rome to meet Benito Mussolini. A de-glammed, makeup-free Loren plays Antoinietta, a middle-aged housewife. She's little more than a slave, cooking and cleaning for her brutish, uncaring husband Emanuele and their six children.

When Antoinietta is left at home in the apartment while everyone else goes out for the fascist parades and rallies, she winds up meeting a neighbor from the other side of the apartment complex. Gabriele (Mastroianni) is an announcer for Italian radio who has just gotten fired from his job for being a homosexual. He is facing imminent deportation to Sardinia. The two lonely people, left behind as everyone else puts on a display of fascist patriotism, form a bond.

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This film got a lot of attention at the time for both of its leads Playing Against Type—Sophia Loren the sex goddess playing a frumpy, beleaguered housewife, and Marcello Mastroianni the dashing Latin Lover playing a gay man. Alessandra Mussolini, who was both Sophia Loren's niece and Benito Mussolini's granddaughter, plays Maria Luisa, Antoinietta's daughter. For some reason, John "Dean Wormer" Vernon, who was Canadian, plays Emanuele.


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Tropes:

  • The Beard: Gabriele talks about how he got a helpful female coworker to do this for him, but it didn't work.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Not quite monochrome, but the whole film is shot in sepia.
  • Epic Tracking Shot: Antoinietta is introduced via a very impressive four-minute tracking shot. The camera starts out in the air, outside her apartment, then goes through the window to find her in the kitchen making coffee. Then the camera follows her on a winding passage through the cramped rooms of the overcrowded apartment as she wakes up her husband and kids.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: One special day.
  • Feet-First Introduction: Gabriele takes his suitcase from the bedroom to the living room—and we see two pairs of legs at the top of the frame. It's the two cops who have come to take him away.
  • Hey, You!: Benito Mussolini had some weird ideas, one of which was to ban the common Italian word for respectful singular "you", Lei, and replace it with voi, which is actually the plural you ("Y'all"). Gabriele insists on addressing Antoineietta as Lei, and she, being a loyal fascist, calls him out on it.
  • Gayngst: Gabriele talks about how living in the closet made him feel ashamed.
  • Housewife: Antoinietta leads a rather grim existence as a quasi-slave, waiting on her husband and six kids. In one scene she cringes when looking at all the wreckage they've left behind in the morning. In another scene her dirtbag husband uses the skirt of her dress to dry his hands.
    Antoinietta: Try blowing your nose on it too.
  • Incompatible Orientation: Antoinetta has sex with Gabriele, and afterwards she is swept away, chattering about how great it was and how she can't wait to see him again. A weary Gabriele says that while he might be able to make love to a woman, it doesn't change anything.
  • Ironic Juxtaposition: After the newsreel, the film opens with the concierge deploying the fascist flags that will be draped over the apartment building that day. That's directly followed by a shot of a man throwing a bag of garbage in the dumpster.
  • Meet Cute: Antoinietta meets Gabriele when her pet mynah bird escapes, and lands on a window sill directly outside Gabriele's apartment.
  • Newhart Phone Call: How we learn Gabriele is gay, when he calls the person on the other end of the phone, obviously his lover, "Marco".
  • Nosy Neighbor: The concierge, a gossipy old hen who sees Gabriele entering Filomena's apartment, and makes a point of knocking on her door to tell her that Gabriele is no good.
  • Porn Stash: When Antoinietta is making her teenaged son's bed, she finds a page from a nudie magazine under the sheets.
  • Propaganda Machine: The opening newsreel. Then, Fascist radio blaring over loudspeakers outside the apartment complex, waxing rhapsodic about the visit of the Fuhrer to Italy.
  • Self-Abuse: Antoinietta gets mad when she finds her son's Porn Stash, telling him that it will make him go blind.
  • Stock Footage: The film opens with an entire six-minute 1938 Italian newsreel, documenting Hitler's state visit. Then periodic stock audio "footage", as a real 1938 radio broadcast of Hitler's visit is played throughout the movie.
  • Title Drop: Gabriele, speaking sarcastically of his impending arrest, tells his lover over the phone that "Today's a very particular day for me, you know."
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