La corruzione (Mauro Bolognini, 1963)
La corruzione (Corruption) matches the intensity of the more celebrated entries (La Dolce Vita, L'eclisse) in Italy's disenfranchised cinema of Il Boom. It lacks any examination of the privilege underpinning Stefano's existential dread and the overall tone is a rather suffocating didacticism. But it also possesses an impressive conviction and single-mindedness stemming from Bolognini's clear respect for his character. Granted, I doubt that I (or Bolognini, for that matter) would have been so moved had Stefano not been played by the gorgeous cherub Jacques Perrin. But the ending would be a knockout no matter who was wringing their hands. Stefano happens upon a large group of people dancing their way into their constrictions, a non-sequitur bit of punctuation summing up his capitulation to the forces of industry. As he observes the revelers in mute inertia, you can't help but feel sorry for the lil dude even though you just know he's going to make the most insufferable boss tomorrow morning.