Nina (Pola) is in a dull marriage with her decent but staid husband Andrea (Cigoli). When she runs off with her dashing lover Roberto (Rimoldi), she leaves behind her four-year old son Prico (De Ambrosis). Shuttled between his busy aunt and his stern grandmother, Prico becomes ill, which brings Nina home. She and Andrea co-exist for the sake of appearances and the child. But Roberto is persistent, and Nina is weak-willed. Prico is thus caught between his foolhardy mother and his heartbroken father.
De Sica’s fifth film bridges traditional Italian cinema and the post-war Neo-realism movement he was soon to embrace more fully. Screenwriter Cesare Zavattini adapted the novel “Prico” (with several other scripters) by Cesare Giulio Viola, and their future collaborations would yield such masterpieces as “Bicycle Thieves” and “Umberto D.”. All the action in this powerful drama is seen through the innocent eyes of little Prico, portrayed by the incredibly expressive De Ambrosis. Shot in 1942, but not released until 1944, the film makes no mention of the war; instead the backdrop is the strictly Catholic, moralizing Italian middle-class which frames Nina and Andrea’s struggle. De Sica’s use of close-ups towards the end of the film is masterful, and the ending won’t leave a dry eye in the house. This treasure is not to be missed!