The episodes range from farce to pathos, though the dominant tone is one of strained sentimentality.
My only visit to Naples was unfortunately marred by being in the middle of a particularly bad flare-up of the ongoing garbage disputes that has plagued the region in recent years, so having never seen the Naples people talk about, this film made me finally give the legendary city the benefit of the doubt. It’s a really nice little film, testament to De Sica’s versatility and the wealth of strong films made in Italy in these decades.
The lack of a dramatic peak, to which a normal scene would build, can force our attention to downshift to the minutiae of moment-by-moment action, or rather micro-action. That’s what happens in this sequence of The Gold of Naples, which Zavattini helped write. Every gesture and glance becomes potentially, but ambiguously, significant. De Sica’s patient recording of a very thin slice of life is as radiantly unpretentious a model of “pure Neorealism” as anything to come from the 1940s.