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Film / The Return of Don Camillo

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The Return of Don Camillo (Italian: Il ritorno di Don Camillo; French: Le Retour de don Camillo) is a 1953 Italian-French comedy film, the second in the Don Camillo franchise and the sequel to Little World of Don Camillo, directed once again by Julien Duvivier, starring Fernandel and Gino Cervi. It is adapted from a short story by Giovannino Guareschi. René Barjavel co-wrote the screenplay.

Don Camillo (Fernandel) has been exiled to a remote and bleak mountain parish by his bishop at the request of Peppone (Cervi). But the mayor of Brescello develops problems with the citizens of the town, who want Camillo back as parish priest. In addition, a flood threatens to destroy Brescello and its environs. So Peppone calls back the priest, and he tries to raise the money needed to prevent damage from the imminent flood.


Followed by Don Camillo's Last Round.

The Return of Don Camillo provides examples of:

  • The Alibi: Peppone thinks that he killed Cagnola, so he asks Don Camillo to claim that he was with him at the time of the murder. Then Cagnola shows up, he thinks that he killed one of Peppone's comrades and he also asks Don Camillo to provide an alibi for him. Fortunately, nobody was killed.
  • Badass Preacher: Don Camillo is able to knock out a profesional boxer.
  • Beyond the Impossible: A (supposedly) dying old man from Camillo's former flock from Brescello misses him so much he refuses to die until Camillo is returned to personally administer the last rites.
  • The Boxing Episode: Peppone organizes a big boxing match the very day Don Camillo is supposed to return to Brescello to distract everyone's attention from the beloved priest's return. A boxing champion confronts a local boxer in the community hall. The local boxer is defeated, so Peppone attacks the champion, who knocks him out. Then, Camillo steps into the ring, and one punch from him is enough to KO the champion. Camillo then lectures everyone about their lust for such violent spectacle.
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  • Cue the Rain: Don Camillo is carrying the cross of his church on his back on the mountainous way to his new village, which is a quite painful experience. Then it starts snowing.
  • Dangerously Close Shave: One of Peppone's men, a barber, brags that if Don Camillo ever had the nerve to cross his threshold, he would get one of those. When Don Camillo hears about it, he comes in to get shaved, and leaves unscathed.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Camillo goes back to Brescello to steal the church's cross in the hope that the Christ will talk to him again. The priest ends up struggling, having to carry the cross on the mountainous way to his new village, on his back in the same manner as the Christ during the Passion, though this time it's in cold and snowy weather. After this trial Camillo can hear the Christ again after weeks of silence.
  • Does Not Know His Own Strength: Camillo tries sitting on the crude chair inside his new presbytery, only for it to break under his weight, much to the annoyance of his new sacristan. The previous priest who used to sit on it was much less massive than he is.
  • Hearing Voices: In Brescello, Don Camillo usually hears the voice of Jesus himself and he often has conversations with him whenever he is close to the crucifix of his church. In the mountainous village, the crucifix of the church does not answer him. So, he goes back to Brescello to bring back the crucifix.
  • He's Back!: Camillo ends up being reassigned again to Brescello, much to his former parishioners' relief.
  • I Have This Friend: When Peppone thinks that he killed Cagnola, he asks Don Camillo if he would accept to help an honest man who would have killed someone accidentally. Don Camillo immediately understands what is the matter and he asks Peppone who he killed.
  • Immediate Sequel: The film picks up where the previous film left off, with Camillo getting out of the train that he took at the end of the first film.
  • It Works Better with Bullets: Marchetti, an ex-fascist, threatens Don Camillo with the priest's own gun. Don Camillo tells him that the gun is not loaded. Then Don Camillo forces Marchetti to drink castor oil (a laxative).
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: When Don Camillo gets in the ring to confront the boxer who has knocked out Peppone, the camera does not show the ring any more, but the audience of the match. The reaction of the audience shows that Don Camillo defeats the boxer.
  • Pals with Jesus: Jesus hasn't talked to Camillo since the priest's reassignment. Then, when Camillo is struggling to carry the cross to the mountainous village, he hears the Christ again, who reveals to Camillo that he was too blinded by anger and confusion over his reassignment to hear him.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: The mountainous village where Camillo has been sent. It cannot be directly accessed with any vehicle, there's only one parishioner who goes to the mass, and it's cold year round. To make matters worse, Camillo can't hear the Christ anymore there for quite some time.
  • Revenge of the Sequel: "The Return of" variant.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Bad blood between Peppone and Cagnola causes their sons to start a war, too, until Cagnola's son throws a stone at Peppone's son's head and gravely injures him. In the film, things stop there. In the short story, the boy who threw the stone takes refuge on a transmission tower because he's terrified he's killed his classmate; when he sees policemen in the distance he tries to climb even higher but loses his strength and falls into the river.
  • Tap on the Head: Both Peppone and Cagnola (the landowner who refuses to give away lands of his to build a dike to stop the flood from the river Po) have come to see Camillo in his mountainous new home, and they end up fighting each other in it. Camillo then turns the crucifix's face against the wall (saying "Look the other way, Lord, before these savages!"), grabs a wooden log and knocks out both Peppone and the landowner with it to stop the fight.
  • Toilet Humour: Peppone wants to force Marchetti, an ex-fascist, to drink castor oil (a laxative). Marchetti turns things around and forces Peppone to drink a glass of oil. Then Don Camillo forces Marchetti to drink a glass of oil. Finally, Jesus coerces Don Camillo into drinking it as well.
  • Translation Convention: The film takes place in Italy, but in the French version, everybody speaks French. During filming, the French actors spoke French, while the Italian actors spoke Italian. Then the Italian actors were dubbed for the French version. Strangely, everybody speaks French with a Marseille (Mediterranean part of France) accent (Don Camillo, Peppone, Camillo's sacristan...).
  • Vetinari Job Security: After Don Camillo's departure, the spiritual peace of the people of Brescello is broken and his appointed successor can't do anything about it. Even the Communists come to realize that.
  • We Want Our Jerk Back!: Peppone and his guys come to realize life felt better before their Worthy Opponent Camillo was replaced by a younger, much more politically neutral and meeker priest, not to mention the things non-communist parishioners refuse to do until Camillo is brought back to Brescello. They soon beg for him to return.