Polish Cinema: Giuseppe in Warsaw (Stanislaw Lenartowicz, 1964, Poland)

        Giuseppe in Warsaw is a fun, charming comedy from director Stanislaw Lenartowicz. Lenartowicz had a prolific career in Polish cinema, directing several other comedies and many TV films. It seems that Giuseppe is his most enduring work. The film is also notable for featuring the legendary Zbigniew Cybulski - the Polish James Dean - in a rare comic role. For those accustomed to seeing Cybulski in his dramatic turns in Ashes and Diamonds and Salto, it will be quite a surprise to see him doing madcap comedy. Like Cybuslki, the film features another actor who died quite young - Neapolitan actor Antonio Cifariello, most known for being featured in Federico Fellini's segment of Love in the CityGiuseppe in Warsaw was his final film role before dying in a plane crash.

       Giuseppe in Warsaw tells the story of an Italian soldier in 1943 who has his machine gun stolen in Warsaw on his way back from the Russian front. He ends up staying in the flat of a Polish woman Maria (Elzbieta Czyzewska), who lives with her artist brother Staszek (Cybulski). Hijinks ensue as we learn that Maria is a member of the Polish resistance, and Giuseppe falls in love with her. Staszek wants nothing more than a peaceful and quiet life, but is constantly interrupted by his sister's activities and now the presence of Giuseppe. The tension between Staszek and Giuseppe is one of the highlights of the film.

      Despite the film's rather grim setting of WWII Warsaw, the film is a great deal of fun. Most of the laughs are had at the expense of our hero Giuseppe and his Italianness, as well as the buffoonish occupying Germans. Giuseppe in Warsaw is an innocent comedic time capsule of Polish 1960s comedy cinema and well worth watching for fans of Polish cinema.


7/10


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