Director: Roberto Rossellini
Year Released: 1959
A case of karmic retribution: wayward gambler and schemer "Grimaldi" (filmmaker Vittorio De Sica) - who cons ordinary people out of money to support his gambling addiction and claims to be able to sway the Gestapo into freeing political prisoners - eventually gets taken in by the not-too-friendly Gestapo and is forced to play informant. Despite the plainly obvious message - about coming to the realization that one needs to defend one's country and not exploit it for personal gain - there's a marvelous performance by De Sica as the lead: since it's clear from the very beginning that his character is a scoundrel, he's given the task of having to make that scoundrel at once pathetic and charming, which is no simple task. Rossellini may not have wanted to make this at the time, but it really is a solid picture.