The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: December 3

12/03/2014 4:00 AM |

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The Organizer (1963)
Directed by Mario Monicelli
Monicelli made comedies about endurance in which impoverished characters attempted to stay afloat while also—if possible—improving their circumstances. He directed nearly seventy films over more than seventy years, throughout which he continually returned to stories of people banding together for collective action, failing, and surviving with their wits intact to fail again in the future. Monicelli’s atypically seriocomic The Organizer (whose original Italian-language title translates to “The Comrades”) focuses on a group of textile factory laborers in late 19th-century Turin who suffer under the weight of fourteen-hour workdays. They decide to strike in the wake of a coworker’s on-the-job injury and are soon energized by the arrival of a forceful socialist professor (played by Marcello Mastroianni) who shares their hunger and helps give voice to their demands. The film studies several of the strikers—young and old, male and female—with an eye towards the needs of each one. It employs precise period details to evoke their despair, along with a hope for their struggle. Aaron Cutler (Dec 4, 2:30pm at Film Forum’s Monicelli series)