Donne e Briganti (Women and Bandits) was the second of two Mario Soldati-directed films released in Europe during the last week of June, 1951 (the first was Je Suis de la Revue). Set in the early 19th century, the film recounts the Robin Hood-like adventures of bandit Michele Pezza (Amedeo Nazzari), better known as Fra Diavolo. This same character was depicted along more villainous lines in the famous 1830 opera by Auber, which was filmed in 1933 as The Devil's Brother, with Dennis King in the title role and Laurel and Hardy as comic relief. In Donne e Briganti, Fra Diavolo is his own comic relief, his tongue firmly in cheek as he robs from the rich, gives to the poor, and takes time out to romance his wife Marietta (Maira Mauban) and mistress Flora (Jacqueline Pierreux). According to this film, Fra Diavolo was also something of a patriot, opposing the invading forces of France. Sumptuously produced, Donne e Briganti falters only in the indecisive camera work by Mario Montuori.
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