A Difficult Life

A Difficult Life (Italian: Una vita difficile) is a Commedia all'italiana or Italian-style comedy film directed by Dino Risi in 1961.

A Difficult Life
(Una vita difficile)
Directed byDino Risi
Produced byDino De Laurentiis
Written byRodolfo Sonego
StarringAlberto Sordi
Lea Massari
Franco Fabrizi
Claudio Gora
Music byCarlo Savina
CinematographyLeonida Barboni
Release date
19 December 1961
Running time
118 min


Silvio (Alberto Sordi) is an Italian partisan. He and his companions belong to the Italian resistance movement and are fighting against the fascists and the Nazis. They are at Lake Como. He is helped by Elena (Lea Massari). He spends three months hiding in Elena's grandfather's mill. They fall in love. Silvio is an idealist, probably communist, journalist writer. He goes back to war.

The film spans the story of Italy from 1944 to 1960, from the times of poverty in World War II to the birth of the Italian Republic, the elections and Silvio's ideals of the Italian Communist Party, his stay in jail, his disappointments, his crises with Elena, his attempts to get his works published and to sell his film scripts in Cinecittà to Alessandro Blasetti, Silvana Mangano and Vittorio Gassman (they appear as themselves).


Cult scenes

Some scenes are famous in the history of Italian cinema: the dinner at Princess' palace with the referendum of the Italian Republic; when Silvio asks a shepherd guard, "Dimmi, pastore, tu sei felice?". (Tell me, are you happy?); when a drunken Silvio spits at all the cars that drive by on the road after his wife had escaped from a night club in a very long piano sequenza shoot.

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