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Monday, November 11, 2013

The Organizer (1963) d. Mario Monicelli

Marcello Mastroianni plays the Organizer of the title.

Movie Review
The Organizer (1963)
 d. Mario Monicelli
Criterion Collection #610

   Yet another Criterion Collection title where I'm like, "Really, a 1963 Italian movie about the travails of garment factory workers in Turin in the early 20th century?"  Apparently my reaction was shared by contemporary American critics.  The accompanying critical essay at the Criterion Collection site mentions that Stanley Kauffman, reviewing The Organizer in the New Republic, asked why anyone would make a movie about a labor movement in 1963.

  Of course, Kauffman was unaware of the labor unrest plaguing the Fiat Factory in Turin in 1962, making The Organizer a clear reminder to domestic Italian audiences that the fight of labor against capital was a fight that always needed to be renewed.  Vacationing in Turin in 2010, I stayed at a Hotel in that same Fiat factory that had been the subject of dispute around the time this film came out.

  It had been redeveloped for the Turin area winter Olympics, and now had two luxuryish hotels and a huge-ass shopping mall.  One of the pleasures for me watching The Organizer is that it was actually shot in Turin, and I recognized many of the locales (Turin is not a particularly large city, and the downtown is distinctive with large squares and overhanging Arcades.)

  At the same time it was a melancholy memory for me, of a relationship past.  It makes me want to go back to all those places with someone new to replace the old, saddish memories with new happy memories, but I'm not sure Turin would make the cut for a second visit in this lifetime.

  The Organizer has a black and white, retro look, but at the same time it is very clear that this is not an Italian neo-realist picture, rather it is in the style of a Hollywood melodrama, with dollies, tracking shots, and maudlin sentiment for days.  It's not an unpleasant film, easy to watch, but hardly what I would call a "classic."

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