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The Law (1959)

La legge (original title)
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Illicit passions pervade an Italian town, where men gather nightly for the cynical "game of the law."



(novel), | 1 more credit »
2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Don Cesare
Enrico Tosso - l'agronomo
Donna Lucrezia
Matteo Brigante
Raf Mattioli ...
Francesco Brigante
Vittorio Caprioli ...
Attilio - il commissario
Lidia Alfonsi ...
Gianrico Tedeschi ...
Primo disoccupato
Nino Vingelli ...
Bruno Carotenuto ...
Luisa Rivelli ...
Anna Maria Bottini ...
Anna Arena ...
Anna - la moglie d'Attilio
Edda Soligo ...


Marietta, servant of aristocrat Don Cesare, is the bellezza of an Italian town where men gather nightly in the tavern for the 'game of the Law,' selecting one by lot to boss and humiliate the others. Illicit passions abound: the judge's wife pursues Francesco, son of crime boss Matteo, who is after Marietta (so is her brother-in-law); Marietta wants engineer Enrico for a husband, but he claims he's too poor to marry. So she decides to steal herself a dowry! All this may lead to an explosion...and some changes in who dictates 'the law.' Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


One of the screen's outstanding directors has assembled a distinguished international cast to bring to the screen a prize-winning, best-selling novel. See more »


Comedy | Crime | Drama


See all certifications »





Release Date:

11 November 1960 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Law  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


FRF 450,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$1,100 (USA) (20 August 2010)


$17,351 (USA) (29 August 2010)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Both Carol Baker and Scilla Gabel had been contacted to play Marietta's part. See more »


Spoofed in There's Something About Mary (1998) See more »


When Love Has Gone
Written by Roman Vlad
Performed by Caravelli (as Claude Vasori) Et Son Orchestre
See more »

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User Reviews

Decent Dassin film in which an attractive girl becomes involved with wrong decisions to marry a poor engineer
9 December 2015 | by (Santander Spain) – See all my reviews

This drama with brief touches of comedy deals with an unfortunate girl called Marietta (Gina Lollobrigida , though both , Carol Baker and Scilla Gabel , had been contacted to play Marietta's part) , servant of aristocrat Don Cesare (Pierre Brasseur) , she is a beautiful woman living in a Sicilian little town where people gather nightly in the tavern for the 'game of the Law' , selecting one by lot to boss and humiliate the others . Marietta , who is pursued by every male in town , is in love with Enrico (Marcelo Mastroianni) , an equally impoverished agricultural engineer . There are various love stories : the judge's wife (Melina Mercouri) chases Francesco (Raf Mattioli) , son of crime mobster Matteo , who is after Marietta . Meanwhile , local boss Brigante (Ives Montand) wants to make sure that his son Francesco doesn't get too involved with the unsuitable Lucrezia , the judge's wife . And Marietta wants engineer Enrico for a hubby , but he claims he's too poor to marry . Marietta then decides to rob herself a dowry from a tourist . Furthermore , there appears the Comissario (Vittorio Caprioli) and her lover Giuseppina (Lidia Alfonsi) , the Judge , Tonio (Paolo Stoppa) and other villagers (Franco Pesce) . All of them are living in a small fishing village near from sea . The whole events lead to disagreeable deeds with fateful consequences .

This film -in which illicit as well as interwoven passions abound- has comedy , drama , emotion , social habits but also contains some embarrassing situations . This ¨Dramedy¨ is pretty well , but sometimes results to be slow-moving and a little bit boring . Director Jules Dassin directs this predominantly romantic drama in which stands out themes about power excesses and various triangular romances that pervade in the Sicilian town . Sympathetic acting by the gorgeous busty Gina Lollobrigida who comes up with an unique way to get money for her dowry , robbing a lot of cash . She is the Bellezza of an Italian town , while Gina is the flame , Ives Montand is the fuse that sets them on fire . Secondary cast is frankly excellent , such as the French Pierre Brasseur and the great Melina Mercouri who co-starred opposite Jules Dassin in his film Never on Sunday (1960) , Rififi (1954) and Phaedra (1961) . In addition , it appears their son : Joe Dassin, who was a popular French singer in the 1960s and 70s . The picture packs an evocative cinematography shot on location in Carpino , Foggia , Apulia, Italy . Atmospheric and appropriate musical score by Roman Vlad .

The motion picture was professionally directed by Jules Dassin , though has some flaws and gaps . At his beginnings Jules became a stage actor and was a member of a Jewish troupe , as he played character roles in Yiddish . At that time , he joined the Communist Party of the United States , but left the party in 1939 , he said , disillusioned after the Soviet Union signed a pact with Adolf Hitler . He subsequently turned into filmmaker , Dassin's best directorial works for Hollywood include such a dated patriotic flag-waver titled Reunion in France (1942) with John Wayne , Joan Crawford ; a fantastic comedy titled The Canterville ghost (1944) , and criminal dramas as The brute force (1947) , starring Burt Lancaster ; The naked city (1948), one of the first police dramas shot on the streets of New York ; and Night in the city (1950) starring Richard Widmark as a hustler in London who is caught up in his own schemes . While he was assigned by producer Darryl F. Zanuck to make the film , Dassin was accused of affiliation with the Communist Party in his past . As Jules was in the ¨Black List¨ during McCarthy time . He left the United States for France in 1953 and struggled during his first years in Paris . He was not fluent in French , and his connections were limited and at his early stay had little success . At that time , the anti-Communist witch hunt in America was fading , and Dassin was accepted again . However , Dassin's low-budget film , Rififi (1955), famous for its long heist sequence that was free of dialog , (1964) , won him the Best Director Award at the 1955 Cannes Film Festival . Dassin received two Academy Award-nominations for directing and screen-writing for Topkapi , his greatest hit smash . Jules , finally , directed two failed movies as A dream of passion (1978) and A circle of two (1980)

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