“Coffee is the best friend a man ever had.”
A one-armed coffee vendor (Nino Manfredi) with a sick teenage son (Giovanni Piscopo) attempts to elude a trio of policemen while illicitly selling coffee on a train.
Essentially an extended cat-and-mouse tale, Nanni Loy’s surprisingly touching and entertaining comedy takes place primarily within the confines of a moving train. The storyline is simple — and pretty much covered in the brief synopsis provided above — but remains compelling viewing throughout given our growing investment in the lead protagonist’s fate. Indeed, Nino Manfredi anchors the film, and provides it with its essential heart: he’s wily yet sympathetic, never afraid to call things as they are, and ultimately emerges as an unexpected folk hero of sorts. A minor quibble: one can’t help wondering why the railroad company isn’t allowing Manfredi to sell his coffee legitimately, given that it’s clearly desired by the passengers — but one must simply chalk this up to cultural idiosyncrasies. Not required viewing, but definitely worth seeking out.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Nino Manfredi as Michele Abbagnano
- A clever, surprisingly hard-hitting comedic screenplay
No, but it’s certainly recommended.