Un americano a Roma (1954)

I love Alberto Sordi.

“Albertone”, the name he is known by Italian audiences, has the talent to make you laugh at any time, no matter how bad is your mood, but also of portraying with the greatest excellence the figure of the spoiled kid/man. We’ve seen him in Fellini’s I Vitelloni, playing the role of a good-for-nothing man in his 30s, but also the role of an idealist who tries to fight destiny in Una Vita difficile, the role of a man who never left his country  and gets easily impressed in Il Diavolo, the role of a man trying to kill his wife in Il Vedovo and many others who are hard to forget and will always bring a smile to my face.

In 1954, when Europe was still trying to get up after World War II, he appeared in Un americano a Roma, a brilliant comedy and satire about the times of the post-war and the funny characters that inhabited it. Sordi is Ferdinando Mericoni, an Italian man obsessed with the United States to the point he claims being one of its citizens. It doesn’t matter that he doesn’t speak a word of English, nor that his whole vision of the country is based in the Westerns he sees in the cinema, nor that the American people he has met so far don’t particularly like him… During the whole movie, Sordi will try to prove his point.

Two key scenes.

One, when Sordi rejects the classic Italian dinner his mother prepared him, only to end devouring it after a couple of bites of his self-improvised “typical American dinner”. And the other when he patrols the roads with his bike, pretending to be the sheriff of Kansas City.

At the end, everything is a parody, but after my 5 years living in Japan, I can’t avoid remembering some people there trying to be more Japanese than the Japanese.



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