CANNON MONTH: The Assisi Underground (1985)

During World War II, Alexander Ramati worked as a war journalist, entering Assisi with the Allied forces where he met Father Rufino Niccacci, whose Franciscan Monastery of San Damiano in Assisi worked to give Jewis people during World War II new identities and hid them from the Germans, which is much different than how so much of the Catholic Church dealt with that side of World War II.

After interviewing Niccacci, he would write the book that this is based on, as well as direct the movie. Not many authors have directed their own books, but thanks to this Letterboxd list, you can count Ramati in the same league as Fernando Arrabal (Long Live DeathCar Cemetery), Clive Barker (HellraiserNightbreedLord of Illusions), Enki Bilal (Immortal), William Peter Blatty (The Exorcist IIIThe Ninth Configuration), Bertrand Blier (Going Places), Catherine Breillat (A Real Young GirlNight After NightAnatomy of Hell36 FilletteAbuse of Weakness), Emmanuel Carrère (The Mustache), Medgi Charef (Tea In the Harem), Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower), Jean Cocteau (The Eagle with Two HeadsThe Storm Within), Michael Crichton (Pursuit, First Great Train Robbery), Ramón de España (Haz conmigo lo que quieras), Margeuerite Duras (Agatha and the Limitless ReadingBaxter, Ver BaxterThe ChildrenDestroy, She SaidEndless Days In the TreesIndia SongJaune, Le SoleilLa Musica), Brad Fraser (Leaving Metropolis), Buddy Giovinazzo (Life Is Hot In Cracktown), Sacha Guitry (The Story of a Cheat), Peter Handke (The AbsenceThe Left-Handed Woman), Václav Havel (Odcházení), Ethan Hawke (The Hottest State), Michel Houellebecq (Possibility of an Island), Alejandro Jodorowsky (The Dance of RealityEndless Poetry), Junji Ito (Tomio), Elia Kazan (America AmericaThe Arrangement), Stephen King (Maximum Overdrive), Neil LaBute (In the Company of MenThe Shape of Things), Robert Lepage (), André Malraux (Days of Hope), David Mamet (Oileanna), Thomas McGuane (92 In the Shade), Gian Carlo Menotti (The Medium), Oscar Micheaux (The Homesteader), Frank Miller (Sin CitySin City: A Dame to Kill For), Rebecca Miller (Personal VelocityThe Private Lives of Pippa Lee), Yukio Mishima (Patriotism), John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch), Hayao Miyazaki (Nausicaä of the Valley of the WindThe Wind Rises), Dito Montiel (A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints), Laura Mulvey (Riddles of the Sphinx), Ryū Murakami (Almost Transparent BlueIt’s Aigt, My FriendRaffles HotelTokyo DecadenceDance With Me), Katsuhiro Otomo (Akira), Marcel Pagnol (Topaze), Gordon Parks (The Learning Tree), Pier Paolo Pasolini (Accattone), Lucía Puenzo (The Fish ChildThe German Doctor), Atiq Rahimi (Earth and AshesThe Patience Stone), Jean Rollin (Two Orphan Vampires), Ousmane Sembène (MandabiXala), John Patrick Shanley (Doubt, Wild Mountain Thyme), Vasily Shukshin (There Is Such a Lad), Tom Stoppard (Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead), Preston Sturges (Christmas In July), Abdellah Taïa (Salvation Army), Adriana Trigiani (Big Stone Gap), Dalton Trumbo (Johnny Got His Gun), Petr Zelenka (Wrong Side Up), Florian Zeller (The Father) and for Cannon lovers, Norman Mailer’s Tough Guys Don’t Dance.

Ben Cross is Rufino Niccacci, James Mason is Giuseppe Placido Nicolini and Maximilian Schell plays Colonel Valentin Müller, while Edmund Purdom probably is in the classiest movie of his late career as Cardinal Della Costa. Yet somehow, even with an hour cut from the movie, it still moves quite slow.

Yet as I must watch every Cannon movie, I watched it. There’s an idea for a good movie here. This isn’t it, sadly. And it was released a year after Mason died, which just makes me sad.

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