"Society has the teenagers it deserves" (J.B. Priestley). The objective is journalistic, the new "burnt-out generation" and its obsession with "violence as personal triumph," Michelangelo Antonioniís blade-sharp compositions chronicle the warís amoral fallout in three different countries. The French situation is sketched as a languid tram ride from the cramped city to Renoirís campagne (a whiskered gamekeeper bicycles by), a coquette (Etchika Choreau) ping-ponging between the bourgeois braggart (Jean-Pierre Mocky) and the envious delinquent (Henri Poirier). With nothing but contempt for the past ("To hell with Racine!"), the youngsters light their pipes with franc bills and end up with pocketfuls of counterfeit money, a pistol shot punctuating their picnic like an exclamation point. Long takes give way to nocturnal flurries in the Italian episode, where a college student (Franco Interlenghi) moonlights as a smuggler in a dockside melee modeled on Kazanís Panic in the Streets. The ensuing Roman meander charts the wounded clodís malaise while permitting a panorama of an ancient city with half-built skyscrapers in the distance. The ultimate lament falls to the boyís father, the horror of confronting a son and "suddenly finding yourself face to face with a stranger." The closing segment in London makes explicit Antonioniís alliance to Hitchcock, adds a dash of Ealing, and locates a corpse in the park for the benefit of Blowup thirteen years later. Monstrous adolescence here is a cheery twit (Peter Reynolds) who looks like Richard Attenborough and acts like Robert Walker in Strangers on a Train, a failed writer whose work is finally published as a tabloid article. The squashed, deformed dreams of a demented little poet who keeps admiring his own murderous hands, but a confession these days is just a story to be sold. Losey (The Big Night), Ray (Rebel Without a Cause) and Siegel (Crime in the Streets) take care of the American episode. With Anna-Maria Ferrero, Eduardo Ciannelli, Patrick Barr, Fay Compton, and David Farrar. In black and white.
--- Fernando F. Croce