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Film / The Four Days of Naples

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The Four Days of Naples is a 1962 film from Italy directed by Nanni Loy.

It's about, well, the "Four days of Naples." September, 1943. Neapolitans are sick of war, sick of being hungry, sick of their city getting bombed. So when the new government announces on September 8, 1943, that Italy is asking the Allies for an armistice and getting out of the war, the people of Naples are delirious with joy.

Unfortunately the Germans are still in the country and are not quitting the war. The people of Naples are still dancing in the streets when the German army moves in. The commander announces martial law, and the Germans shoot a sailor in the town square just to make a point. Panic spreads when the Germans start rounding up the men of the town, intending to take them off to Germany as slave labor. When the Germans take hostages with the promise of executing them if the townsfolk misbehave, the citizens of Naples rise up in revolt. Civilians and partisans, scrounging up any weapons they can find, engage the Germans in a four-day battle for the city.



  • Based on a True Story: "Gli episodi di questo film sono ispirati alla realta"..."The episodes of this film are Inspired by… reality." All the events in the film are more or less accurate: the Germans did in fact forcibly evacuate the people living near the bay, a soldier was executed, a 12-year-old boy in the resistance was killed. The main liberty is giving the impression that the uprising seemingly happened only a day or two after the surrender when it was actually two weeks.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The residents of Naples drive the German occupiers out of their city well ahead of the advancing Allies forces, but they do so with numerous losses.
  • Bookends: Early in the movie, a massive German armored unit of tanks and transports roll through the main boulevard of Naples, signaling their occupation of a key defensive position in their coming battle with the approaching Allies. The movie ends with the Allies' tanks rolling through the same streets, only this time signaling the city's liberation.
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  • Child Soldiers: An entire school rises up as the city does to resist the Germans, even as the schoolmaster yells at the teen leader not to go. Later on, after the students engaged some Germans and captured some, they return to the school because they have nowhere else to go.
  • Les Collaborateurs: They're around. One translates orders from the German commander to the locals, and tells them to clap when the sailor is shot in the square. There's a guy named Arnaldo who, when the Germans come to his apartment, tells them that he's a fascist and does a Hitler salute.
  • Day Hurts Dark-Adjusted Eyes: The announcement that Italy is quitting the war leads a middle-aged couple to pull up a manhole cover. From the manhole they retrieve their son Arturo, who has been living in the sewer for an undetermined amount of time to avoid being forced into the army. He's wincing from the sunlight as he's pulled up.
  • Death of a Child: The death of a 12-year-old boy who got caught up in the resistance during the fourth day of the uprising enrages the rest of the city, who then attack the German tanks and successfully drive the Nazis out of Naples.
  • Decoy Protagonist: The movie opens focusing on a handsome Italian sailor who came into town to pick up the daily mail. As the city erupts in celebration that the Italian fascists are surrendering to the Allies, he bikes through the commotion, and flirts with a melancholic young prostitute. It all looks like he's getting set up to be a central figure in the uprising to come. He's not: He's the sailor that the Germans executed in Real Life when they occupy the city as a warning to the citizens not to disobey them.
  • Disturbed Doves: The pigeons in the square fly off when the young sailor is shot by a firing squad.
  • Dramatic Gun Cock: Amidst the joyful celebration in the streets after the surrender announcement, a drunk German soldier is yelling "Hitler kaput!". He hitches a ride on a bicycle from an Italian sailor. Once they are free of the crowd, the German soldier pulls his Luger and dramatically cocks it, revealing that he was just faking so he could escape.
  • Ensemble Cast: Various different characters get screen time—a fascist collaborator, a 12-year-old boy who joins the resistance, a professor who becomes a leader of the resistance, a soldier named Salvatore who's having an affair with a woman named Maria. But there is no one lead character.
  • Hope Spot: Early in the movie, when the radio announcements about the fall of the Italian Fascist government makes everyone in Naples believe the war is over for them, they all break out into celebration. It doesn't occur to them until it's too late that the Nazis are all around them, and they have no intention of surrendering to the Allies.
  • Improvised Weapon: In one scene the Germans are making their way down a narrow alley with multistory apartment buildings on each side. The people who live there start hurling their furniture out of their windows at the Germans—beds, desks, sinks, even a toilet.
  • Lifesaving Misfortune: Some men scramble to the bay in hopes of catching a boat and making their way by sea to American lines, rather than get taken to Germany for slave labor. They make it to the water only to see that some other men beat them there and are leaving on the boat. As the men left behind watch from shore, the boat full of civilians is intercepted by a German patrol boat, which opens fire, killing everyone aboard.
  • Mood Whiplash: More than one sudden switch from tragedy to comedy. A religious festival is interrupted by a bombing raid. A taxi driver complains that some partisans are using his taxi as cover during a firefight. He grabs one of them to complain some more, only to find that the man is dead.
  • No Name Given: Gian Maria Volonte plays a captain in the Italian army who winds up leading the resistance in the town. At the end of the film as the Germans are leaving, some of the people who fought with him are looking for him, and they realize they never found out his name.
  • Off-into-the-Distance Ending: A relatively rare example of the bad guys doing this, as the film ends with the German army leaving town.
  • Ominous Fog: The foreboding mood is reinforced when fog rolls in from the bay as the people who live near the water are being forcibly evacuated.
  • Pin-Pulling Teeth: Even civilians can do it, as a teenager pulls the pin from a grenade with his teeth before flinging it at the Germans.
  • La Résistance: A mix of demobilized Italian soldiers and civilian residents of Naples wind up spontaneously rising up against the occupying Germans.
  • Road Block: One bit of comedy has some of the townsfolk, who after all have no military training, building a barricade. They are unpleasantly surprised to find the Germans turning a corner onto the street behind them, on the same side of the barricade, forcing the Italians to run around to the other side for cover.
  • Slow Clap: A pretty dark instance of this trope, as the people of Naples watch the sailor shot by firing squad in the square. The collaborator doing the translating tells them that they have to clap, that the Germans are filming with newsreel cameras, and that if they don't start clapping the Germans will turn guns on them. They slowly, reluctantly clap.
  • Stock Footage: Some stock footage of burning buildings in the town.
  • These Hands Have Killed: A civilian in the resistance wrestles with guilt, saying "I've never killed a fly, and now I've killed a German!"
  • Urban Warfare: The people of Naples fighting in the streets against the German army.