The Traffic Policeman

The Traffic Policeman (Italian: Il vigile) is a 1960 Italian comedy film directed by Luigi Zampa.

The Traffic Policeman
(Il vigile)
Italian poster
Directed byLuigi Zampa
Produced byGuido Giambartolomei
Written byUgo Guerra
Rodolfo Sonego
Luigi Zampa
StarringAlberto Sordi
Vittorio De Sica
Marisa Merlini
Sylva Koscina
Mario Riva
Music byPiero Umiliani
CinematographyLeonida Barboni
Edited byGuido Giambartolomei
Release date
Running time
100 minutes


Otello Celletti (Alberto Sordi) is an unemployed ex-soldier from a small town in Latium. Since the end of the war, he has been living with his family and father at the expense of his brother-in-law, Nando. One day he receives a letter that says he has been given a job as a carrier in the town's markets, despite his request to join the local police. Unwilling to accept the new job, he manages to meet the town's Mayor (Vittorio De Sica) and get the position he sought for. As a policeman, Otello can finally take revenge on all who had been teasing him during the post-war period when he was a jobless man, but soon starts having trouble with his duties. Incapable of directing the traffic properly at a rather busy crossing, he is moved to a peripheral area where his tasks are much easier and gets here the occasion he has always been waiting for: one day he is told by a man passing by that a car got stuck not far from there and that the car is no less than Sylva Koscina's (in the role of herself). He hurries to the spot and makes friends with the actress, managing to invite her for a coffee at a near bar, and after repairing her car (he actually only makes the situation worse and is then forced to call his little son who is a mechanic) asks Sylva to greet him on television at that night's broadcasting of the program Il Musichiere (the Italian version of Name That Tune). Although the woman is missing her driving license and car documents, he lets her go, looking forward to the moment when she will make his name in front of 18 million viewers. At Il Musichiere, that night, Sylva greets Otello publicly and dedicates to him her performance of Adriano Celentano's Il tuo bacio è come un rock, but can't help saying whom Otello is and why she knows him, revealing also how he let her go when he should have fined or even arrested her. Otello is eventually called up by the Mayor and told how grave what he has done is, and that he is at risk of losing his job if he fails to fulfill his duties again: as a policeman, in fact, he must act according to law and make no distinctions. Some time after, Otello is in the workplace when a car passes by exceeding the 50 km/h speed limit in the area by 15 km/h. Driving the car is no less than the Mayor himself. Remembering what he had been told the day before and believing he is merely being tested by the Mayor, he gives him a speeding ticket and, as the Mayor drives away, follows him. He thus finds out the Mayor has a secret love story, despite being married. However, when he inspects the house where he thinks he will catch the man he is told by a woman (the Mayor's secret partner) that he is wrong and that there is no Mayor in there. The day after, despite being advised by his superiors not to proceed and fine the Mayor, he does so, confident of being in the right, revealing also about the possible skeletons in the Mayor's closet. The Mayor decides therefore to punish Otello, who soon gets fired, and chooses to go on trial rather than paying the fine. The town is, however, close to elections, and the disappointed policeman, unemployed again, is made the candidate of the Monarchist National Party, which opposes the current Mayor and uses Otello's case as evidence that the current government does not operate justly. Certain to have the whip hand, he threatens the Mayor, declaring he will cause his government to fall and get elected himself, to which the Mayor replies by showing Otello secret information about him that he and his party have collected. The information concerns his family, specifically his sister, who was thought to be a masseuse living in Milan and is instead a prostitute, his marriage, which is not a legal one for his wife's ex-husband is still alive, and his father, who shot the King during the war, an action that would be considered an outrage by the monarchists. Fearing for the consequences this information might cause if revealed to the public, Otello decides to finally give up, and on the next day's trial he admits, pretending, that he was wrong in fining the Mayor, a mistake that was caused by a broken Odometer, and that such a man as the Mayor himself can't but be always right. The final scene goes to show how common people are unable to compete with the powerful, and must, in the end, submit.


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