The Poor and the Noble

Adapted from a comic novel by Eduardo Scarpetta, this 1954 Italian feature stars Toto as an impoverished writer in late-19th-century Naples whose family shares a room with the kin of an equally downtrodden photographer (Enzo Turco). The two clans argue constantly, even as they impersonate aristocrats to help a rich young marquis impress the father of a ballerina he loves (a luscious Sophia Loren). As in most Neapolitan farce the overriding motivation is hunger, carried to an extreme here when the family members stuff their pockets with spaghetti. Mario Mattoli's perfunctory direction confirms the film's conceit of a play being staged; the sumptuous color cinematography is by the great Karl Struss (Sunrise, The Great Dictator). 95 min.

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