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The Organizer
BLU-RAY disk
May 8, 2012 By: Mathew Plale
The Organizer order
Director:
Mario Monicelli

Actors:
Marcello Mastroianni
Renato Salvatori
Annie Girardot

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
After an accident in the workplace, employees at a textile factory enlist a professor (Mastroianni) to help them stage a strike and lessen their hours.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
In the late 19th century Turin, employees at a textile factory work 14-hour shifts. Its a strain. They have families at home they want to see, but they also need to support them.

On one of shifts, one of the men, exhausted and dazed, catches his left arm in a machine. He screams and pleads, but its too late. The workers agree: their hours are too long; they feel exploited, like sheep. They plan to strike, but have no idea how to organize such a thing. Enter Professor Sinigaglia (Marcello Mastroianni), hired as the workers advisor and who instructs them on what they should demand and how.

Some insist on working. Others decide to set their own schedules. There are suspensions and fines. Unemployed laborers from nearby Saluzzo are brought in by the managers to replace the strikers.

Mario Monicellis The Organizer (1963) looks at the process of orchestrating a strike, with triumphs and roadblocks at every turn. There is the feeling that any small victory on either side will not last, and that any obstacle could turn into an advantage.

The Organizer is, at once, humorous and desperate. It shows a very human side to a very strenuous scenario. But, like so many films about unions and/or strikes (think Norma Rae and Strike), The Organizer is always at risk of being preachy. It takes the side of the laborers, naturally, but avoids soapboxing for much of the film. That is, until one of the final scenes, when the workers are ready to reenter the factory and Sinigaglia stands before them to demand they stand their ground. Though Mastroianni is convincing and even overwhelming in the speech, it is a weak moment that brings the film down.

Monicelli and fellow screenwriters Agenore Incrocci and Furio Scarpelli earned an Oscar nomination for their screenplay, but lost to Peter Stone and Frank Tarloffs Father Goose. Its a fine script, but the writers cant avoid showing what is expected in this sort of film, such as dimensionless antagonists and grandiose calls to action. Its flawed, but still a strong entry in Monicellis canon.
THE EXTRAS
Mario Monicelli (10:34): Director Monicelli (1915 - 2010) introduces The Organizer with the aid of clips.

Trailer

Also included with this Criterion Collection Blu-ray is a booklet featuring an essay titled Description of a Struggle by film critic J. Hoberman.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
The Organizer may not be Mario Monicellis most demanded feature, but The Criterion Collection has still done a great job with the video and audio transfers. Unfortunately for those looking for a wealth of supplements, only an introduction and the trailer are included. Its too bad Criterion didnt decide to upgrade 1958s Big Deal on Madonna Street (spine #113) alongside this release.
Strikeback
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