Swindlers, The / Il Bidone (1955)

4.5 out of 5

The sight of a beaten Florinda Bolkan crawling, unnoticed, to her demise at a roadside, as children pass by, is one of many possibly coincidental, possibly intentional, parallel scenes in Fulci's Don't Torture a Duckling suggesting that Lucio directed a darker cousin of the already cynical Federico Fellini crime drama and post war morality and amorality tale.

Broderick Crawford, a conman prepared to dress in the robes of the clergy to take advantage of a poor and superstitious peasantry, begins to doubt to the worth of his chosen vocation as a chance meeting with his daughter allows him to question the point of his whole squalid existence.

The world of the conman stands in direct contrast to the necessity of the Bicycle Thief or the Robin Hood type villain of Luca in Contraband. These are people who do it because they can get away with it and live parasitically off the sweat of those facing far less fortunate circumstances suggesting a subtle class conscious subtext.

Dark, yet thoroughly engaging, the movie itself is nothing short of brilliant.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics