1950s docudrama reenacts post WWII workplace tragedy

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

A tragic story based on true events, Giuseppe De Santis’ 1952 “Roma ore 11” (Rome 11:00) follows several young women in post-WWII Rome as they answer a single job listing for a typist. When 200 women are in line on one staircase spanning several floors, a crack leads to the collapse of the entire staircase. Dozens were injured, and one person was killed. The tragedy spoke to the poverty and desperation of so many Italians in the early 1950s before the ’58 industrial boom began.

The prolific screenwriter Cesare Zavattini contributed to the script, which was based on testimonials. Filmmaker Elio Petri, an assistant to De Santis at the time, interviewed many of the victims and cast a few in supporting roles alongside stars Lucia Bosè, Carla Del Poggio and Raf Vallone.

The real-life tragedy took place on January 15, 1951, at 11 in the morning. Some details in De Santis’ interpretation are fictionalized. For example, the film is set in Largo Circense 37, while the actual collapse took place in Via Savoia 31, located in Rome’s Salario district. The entire piazza outside the original site was reconstructed in the studio by the famous French scenographer Léon Barsacq.

To view the film, click here.


About Jeannine Guilyard

Jeannine Guilyard is a longtime correspondent for Fra Noi and the Italian-American community newspaper in Rochester, N.Y. She has also contributed to the Italian Tribune of New Jersey, Italian Tribune of Michigan and L'Italo Americano of Southern California. Jeannine wrote and directed the short film "Gelsomina," which was selected for the Screenings Program of the 59th Venice Film Festival, and she won Emmy and Peabody awards as an editor of ABC's "Special Report" following the events of Sept. 11, 2001. Jeannine is also a writer and editor for Italian Cinema Today, a publication and blog she founded in 2005 to bridge culture between New York and Italy. Follow her on Instagram at Italianartcinema and on Twitter at @ItaloCinema2day.

Check Also

Eighty Mays ago

In March, my sister Rosie proudly turned 80 and, at the same time, I happened …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Want More?

Subscribe to our print magazine
or give it as a gift.

Click here for details