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The Skin

The Skin
Theatrical release poster
Directed byLiliana Cavani
Written byRobert Katz
Liliana Cavani
Catherine Breillat
Based onThe Skin by Curzio Malaparte
Produced byManolo Bolognini
Renzo Rossellini
StarringMarcello Mastroianni
Burt Lancaster
CinematographyArmando Nannuzzi
Edited byRuggero Mastroianni
Distributed byCinefrance (Germany)
Gaumont Italia (Italy)
Release date
  • 27 August 1981 (1981-08-27)
Running time
131 minutes

The Skin (Italian: La pelle) is a 1981 Italian war film directed by Liliana Cavani and starring Marcello Mastroianni, Burt Lancaster, Ken Marshall, Carlo Giuffrè and Claudia Cardinale from Curzio Malaparte's book The Skin.[1] It was entered into the 1981 Cannes Film Festival.[2]


Naples, 1944. General Mark Clark, commander of the United States Fifth Army, is negotiating with Eduardo Marzullo, a Camorra mobster, the delivery of 112 German soldiers captured during the four days of insurrection. Marzullo demands from the Americans a bribe of one hundred lire per kilo, susceptible to strong increases if not quickly paid, for each prisoner. The intermediary is the Italian liaison captain Curzio Malaparte who is also given the task of pleasing the aviator wife of an American senator, and of organizing a Renaissance style dinner that has as its highlight a fish: a "siren" of the Naples aquarium which looks like a cooked child.

Meanwhile in the slums, mothers sell their children as prostitutes to the Moroccan soldiers, and Jim, the young American liaison captain friend of Malaparte, falls in love with a young girl. He discovers she is being exposed by her father for a fee as the only virgin existing in the city. Malaparte moves in this "hell on earth" scenario with detachment. He tries to explain to the woman, during an orgy of homosexuals, that it is the corrupting power of the Americans which has so reduced the moral qualms of the starving people of the city, who are now severely impoverished by the war.

Vesuvius suddenly breaks out in an eruption, during which the aviator undergoes a cruel rape experience from a group of drunken and upset soldiers, an experience that brings her to the same level of all the other innocent and defeated women around her.

The story ends with the arrival of the Fifth Army in Rome through the Appian Way. Among the crowd that welcomes the Americans, and amidst the enthusiasm of the liberation, a poor man ends up crushed under a military tank.



  1. ^ "NY Times: The Skin". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. 2012. Archived from the original on 2012-10-21. Retrieved 2009-03-29.
  2. ^ "Festival de Cannes: The Skin". Retrieved 2009-05-31.

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The Skin
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