Paisa’ (Paisan, 1946)

1° A group of American soldiers land in Sicily near Catania and are greeted with distrust from the local community. A local girl, Carmela, offers to lead the soldiers through a mine field so they can patrol and secure the area. The group reaches a deserted castle and one soldier lights a lighter so they can see better. He is immediately reprimanded as any German soldier could spot the light and shoot at them. In an effort to make sure that Carmela does not betray the soldiers, they leave her in the castle with Joe, a soldier from New Jersey, while they search the area.

The couple have communication problems right from the beginning although they try to speak with each other. Joe shows off the words he thinks he learned: paisan, spaghetti, bambina, mangiare, 'tout de suite', 'c’est la guerra', and Carmela . Joe then goes on to show Carmela a picture of his family which includes his sister and her son. Confused by what he is trying to tell her, Carmela becomes jealous when she confuses the woman in the picture to be Joe’s wife. In an effort to explain himself better, Joe ignites a lighter to illuminate the photo. Forgetting the earlier warning, a German sniper spots the light and fatally shoots Joe.

Realizing that the Germans will be arriving any minute, she hides Joe's body under a trap door and covers the door with hay. As the Germans arrive they believe that Carmela is the only person in the castle and immediately relax and send her out for water. On her return, Carmela sneaks up on a German soldier and shoots him with Joe’s gun to avenge his wrongful death. Upon hearing this shot, the Americans rush back to the castle only to find Carmela missing and Joe dead. They mistakenly believe that Carmela has killed Joe and fail to realize her act of courage. The scene closes with a shot of Carmela’s mangled body brutally tossed off a cliff by the German troops in order to avenge their comrade’s death.

2° It is the 8th of September in Naples as the camera pans over the bombed out city. Within the chaos of the everyday movement of the city a lone drunken figure draws our attention. Joe is a black American soldier, obviously drunk. Naples street kids auction Joe off among themselves and is bought for 500 lire by a young boy, Pasquale. Pasquale takes his new acquisition to a puppet show where Joe slowly begins to join in with the screams of the audience. They are watching a battle between a white puppet and black Moore who doesn’t seem to have audience approval. Taking this as a personal, racist attack Joe jumps up on stage to help the Moore fight against the popular white soldier. Kicked out of the theater for his behavior, Joe and the Pasquale wander among the ruins and finally sit down in a pile of rubble. There, Joe reminisces about home and tells his young friend about the ticker tape parade that will be waiting for him when he returns. As sobriety returns, Joe realizes that this will never happen as a poor black man in America is no better off than the poor street urchins in Naples. As he drifts asleep Pasquale truthfully warns him that he will steal his boots if the soldier begins to sleep.

A few days later a sober Joe patrols the streets of Naples and picks up a young boy for stealing American supplies off a truck. Realizing that this is the same boy who stole his boots, Joe drives Pasquale home to retrieve them. Pasquale leads Joe to a large cave, his home, where he learns that Pasquale’s parents have been killed in the air raids and now lives as an orphan who steals in order to survive. Emotionally moved by these discoveries, Joe rushes out of the cave when he realizes that there is little difference between a poor Italian street urchin and a poor American black man. Joe speeds away in his jeep, ashamed by his lack of understanding and compassion.

3° Rome: smiling young women throw flowers at the American troops as they liberate the city from the Nazis. Six months later, the smiles and warm welcomes disappear and economic hardship have take their place. A young Roman prostitute picks up a drunken soldier, Fred, outside of a bar and brings him home. As he passes out he insults the prostitute and reminisces about a girl he met. He goes back in his mind and thinks about Francesca, a beautiful Roman girl, who gave him water and a place to wash up when his tank arrived in the city. He explains how he has been studying Italian so he can go back and find her but just can not seem to remember where she lives. The prostitute, realizing that the Roman girl he is describing is her, is excited by her re-discovery of the man she loves. Telling him that she knows this girl, she quickly gets dressed. She leaves a note for Fred with the madam who promises to give it to him when he wakes. Francesca excitedly returns home to wait for Fred who will surely come to find her the next day. However, as Francesca waits for her love in the rain, Fred gets ready to leave Rome and throws away Francesca’s note as it is 'just the address of a prostitute.'

4° In Florence, a young American nurse, Harriet, works in a frenzy to care for the wounded soldiers and partisans. As she is about to leave the war-torn city for a few days of rest, she is informed that her lover, a partisan leader named Lupo, is badly wounded on the other side of the Arno river. Ignoring orders to leave the city, she searches for other partisans who may know more information about Lupo or ways to safely cross the river into the areas where American troops and partisans are still battling the German troops. In a wave of good fortune, Harriet runs into a friend of Lupo who must also cross the river to get to his family. The pair take off and dodge German bullets in order to cross the river. Sneaking past famous monuments and seeking information from the Florentines who are hiding from the bullets in their houses, the pair finally reach the hotbed of struggle where Lupo is wounded. Upon their arrival, Harriet learns that her lover is dead and that her dangerous journey was for naught.

5° Three American army chaplains are hosted in a Catholic monastery in the mountains. Built 500 years ago, the monastery seems peaceful and untouched by the war. The chaplains try to show their thanks by offering a Hershey bar and other canned food to the monks. Catholic Captain Martin, who speaks fluent Italian, is overcome by the monks’ welcoming attitudes and offers up a prayer for them. A monk, confused about why the other two chaplains do not join in the prayers, is astonished and alarmed to discover that the other two chaplains are Jewish and Protestant. He is further alarmed when Captain Martin tells him that he has not tried to convert his friends to Catholicism. The word spreads fast throughout the monastery and the monks decide to fast in order to pray for the souls of the two chaplain who have yet seen the light of Catholicism. Guessing why the monks refuse to eat at mealtime, Captain Martin takes their gesture as one of pure faith instead of pure intolerance. In a mealtime toast and speech, Captain Martin thanks the monks for their hospitality and for their lesson in pure faith, something that he has not seen since he has been involved in the horror of war.

6° American troops and Italian partisans work together in a unified effort to rid the area of the German troops along the Po river. The men move silently amongst the reeds of the river to escape the focus of the Germans in the watch tower. As a fellow partisan, obviously murdered by German troops, floats by in the river, the partisans decide to risk their lives in order to retrieve the body of their comrade. Italian townspeople silently watch without participating as the men attempt to create a diversion so that the dead partisan’s body can be rescued. After this successful mission, the American officer, Dale, and the partisans scheme together about the best ways to receive supplies and ammunition. Their plans are never realized as the German troops round up the Americans and partisans. The American officers are treated correctly according to the Geneva Convention outline but the Italian Partisans are treated like animals. Their hands are tied behind their backs and are pushed into the river with a sign that reads 'Partisan' and a life preserver which would keep their body afloat but not keep them from drowning. Officer Dale, horrified by this rushes forward to help the partisans and is ruthlessly shot by the Germans who continue to push the partisans to their death.

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