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Directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini • 1961 • Italy
Starring Franco Citti, Franca Pasut, Silvana Corsini
Poet and painter turned filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini courted controversy with his very first feature by using Catholic iconography and liturgical music to render a plaintive, brutally beautiful portrait of a shiftless Roman pimp and thief (then-nonprofessional Franco Citti, in a revelatory performance) whose life of petty crime turns increasingly desperate when the woman who supports him is imprisoned. Melding a hardscrabble neorealist milieu with classical influences, Pasolini offers a vision of underclass struggle as a kind of modern sainthood.