Episode 42: Ettore Scola’s A Special Day (1977)

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In this episode, I talk about Ettore Scola’s 1977 film, “A Special Day,” starring Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni in some of the most raw performances of their careers. The film takes place in 1938 on an important day when Hitler visits Mussolini in Rome. While much of the city attends parades and festivities to celebrate the meeting, two people remain in their apartments: Antonietta (Loren), a working class housewife who believes in fascist ideals; and Gabriele (Mastroianni), a former radio announcer, antifacscist, and gay man. On this day in 1938, Antonietta and Gabriele–two people from vastly different backgrounds, holding profoundly different political beliefs–will meet and find connection.

In this episode, I weave together a discussion of the film with my thoughts on the one-year anniversary of the election of Donald Trump, exploring how right-wing extremism and fascism have been on the rise here in the United States. “A Special Day” has much to show us about gender, sexuality, masculinity, political divisions, and human connection. It also has much to tell us not just about Italy in 1938 but the United States in 2017 and beyond.

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