Onofrio, the Marquis del Grillo, is a member of the nobility close to His Holiness Pius VII. Boredom prompts him to make regular forays among the common people, accompanied by his friend Ricciotti with whom, in disguise, he frequents Rome’s taverns.
During one of these secret excursions Onofrio meets a coal merchant named Gasperino, a coarse drunkard who however is the spitting image of the Marquis. Onofrio persuades Gasperino to swap roles, so that Onofrio can follow the beautiful Olympia to France.
Meanwhile, the pope has condemned Onofrio to death; Gasperino, now standing in for the Marquis del Grillo, is arrested.
The day of the execution arrives. Onofrio is among the crowd that has gathered to watch. Although struggling with his conscience at the thought of an innocent man going to the gallows in his stead, he is even more upset that the pope sentenced him to death in the first place – and hatches a plan … (Catalogue text from the 32nd Berlin International Film Festival, 1982)
Italian director Mario Monicelli died on 29.11.2010. He had taken part in the Berlinale seven times since 1956 and received the Silver Bear three times as Best Director: in 1957 for PADRI E FIGLI, in 1976 for CARO MICHELE and in 1982 for IL MARCHESE DEL GRILLO.
Italy / France 1981, 135 min