Most of them are chronically hungry, a motif that's repeated in the serio-comic The Organizer (1963), which opens the series this Friday. Like Big Deal, a film shot in shades of gloomy gray, Monicelli cuts the innate somberness of his tale of a strike at an 1890s textile mill in Turin by jamming little bits of humor in its margins. Both capital and labor are equally incompetent, the workers heartbreakingly so. Mastroianni is quite droll as a ravenous idealist, the traveling organizer of the title, but the large cast of bewildered workers all acquit themselves superbly, their faces cast down in confusion as management plays Mr. Burns to their Homer Simpsons. No mean feat, creating a dozen or so well-rounded characters in a morality play whose issues are still with us. The Organizer should be seen by any naive idealist who thinks reunionizing America will be easy.
-- Gregg Rickman
The Organizer screens Friday, March 14, at 7 and 9:25 p.m. Big Deal on Madonna Street screens Saturday, March 15, at 9:05 p.m. and again on Thursday, March 27, at 7 p.m. The Pacific Film Archive is at 2626 Durant (at College) in Berkeley. Tickets are $5.50, $7 for two features; call (510) 642-1124. For a complete "Comedy, Monicelli Style" schedule see Reps Etc.