Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Comics in Film: Dick Fulmine and Sophia Loren

by BK Munn

Comics in Film: Sophia Loren reads a 1940s comic book, "Fulmine in Nel Regno dei Pigmei", in the film A Special Day (Una giornata particolare, 1977). The film takes place on May 6, 1938, the day Hitler visits Mussolini in Rome, a national holiday in Italy. Loren's character, a housewife, stays home while the entire city is at a gaint rally and has a one-day affair with a gay radio announcer and anti-fascist, played by Marcello Mastroianni, who is about to be interned on the island of San Domino. The comic book, "Lightning in the Kingdom of the Pygmies", is slightly anachronistic, having been published two years after the date of the events of the film, on March 24, 1940. The character, Dick Fulmine, is apparently an Italian version of Dick Tracy, created in 1938 by the sports journalist Vincenzo Baggioli and cartoonist Carlo Cossio. Based in part on the Italian boxer Primo Carnera, his protruding jaw obviously is an homage to Mussolini. The comic was guided through the WWII years by the MinCulPop (the Fascist Ministry of Popular Culture) to make it more of a propaganda tool for the government. The omnipresent images of fascist propaganda in the film, as well as the film's soundtrack which is comprised exclusively of the live radio broadcast of the Hitler-Mussolini rally, underscore the oppressive existence of the two main characters.

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