Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Steiger Dominates New War Film

Cleveland Press September 29, 1967

While "Beach Red" (reviewed on Page 13 of Showtime) explores the horror of war, "The Girl and the General" takes up the theme of its pointlessness.

The story of this rather quiet movie takes place during World War I along the Austrian-Italian border.

A peasant girl (Virna Lisi) and a naive young soldier (Umberto Orsini) have in tow a captured Austrian general (Rod Steiger). The movie traces their efforts to get him through the Austrian lines and turn him over to Italian officials in hopes of a reward.

THEY ARE in constant danger of capture or death; they suffer from lack of food and cold exposure; and the two captors try to doublecross each other while the general repeatedly tries to escape.

As their journey progresses an understanding grows: The professional soldier trying to explain the conventions of war to its two victims, they in turn shrugging off the senselessness of it all.

The movie suffers from slowness and the lack of peaks of excitement. It is overlong for what little it does.

On the credit side are splendid location photography in northern Italy and the wonderful performances by the principals.

Rod Steiger, as usual, is splendid as the haughty general who unbends just slightly as he is forced to mix with very ordinary people. Orsini is simple without appearing senseless and Miss Lisi foregoes the glamour of previous roles to portray a tough and grimy peasant girl.