The Wide Blue Road

With all due respect to the late Pauline Kael, who celebrated Gillo Pontecorvo as a political filmmaker (The Battle of Algiers, Burn!), and to Jonathan Demme and Dustin Hoffman, who have now resurrected as well as restored the first of his five features, I’m not convinced that he’s any sort of master. He may not deserve the scorn Jacques Rivette heaped on his second feature, Kapo (similar to the contempt of some American cinephiles for Stanley Kramer), but this 1957 color feature about a struggling fisherman off the Dalmatian coast who snares his fish with illegal explosives doesn’t show much subtlety or nuance. It does, however, have the Italian-born Yves Montand, who keeps the movie alive when several other elementsincluding a miscast Alida Valli as his wife and the often clunky script and directionperiodically threaten to kill it. 90 min. (JR)

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