This troubled film version of the Puccini opera was begun by Jean Renoir while lecturing in Italy at the invitation of dictator Benito Mussolini. After only a few scenes had been shot, Italy entered WW II and Renoir had to flee, leaving his assistant Carl Koch to complete the film. The familiar plot takes place in the Rome of 1800, where opera diva Floria Tosca (Imperio Argentina) falls in love with a painter, Cavaradossi (Rossano Brazzi). The artist had previously helped Tosca's brother, Angelotti (Massimo Girotti) -- a resistance leader -- escape from the evil police chief Scarpia (Michel Simon). Scarpia arrests Cavaradossi, leading Tosca to decide to surrender herself to him in exchange for her beloved's freedom. Simon is outstanding as the nasty police chief, and Ubaldo Arata's black-and-white cinematography is nice to look at, but the film in general is a rather flat treatment of a compelling story.
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