The Magazine

Roman Holiday

Short shrift for Fascists on the wide screen.

Mar 23, 2009, Vol. 14, No. 26 • By JOE QUEENAN
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Why, then, have the once ubiquitous Fascists been dispatched to the sidelines? Obviously, it didn't help that the Italians never had a Leni Riefenstahl to commit their story to memory. It might also have helped if the Fascists had had a proper air force and participated in the Battle of Britain. They also make crummy subjects for action films because they never won any battles. And because of Hitler's decision to bail out Mussolini during his comical invasion of Greece in 1940, the German invasion of Russia was delayed by weeks, very possibly costing the Thousand Year Reich the war. So there are probably still some bruised feelings about that in certain sectors of the German film industry.

All that said, the deliberate snubbing of Mussolini & Co. does a great disservice to our children. Since kids never learn anything except by watching movies, and since there have been no recent big-budget movies about the inept but peppery Fascists, Il Duce and the boys run the risk of fading out of the pages of history completely. Just as the Jutes got upstaged by the Huns, and the Tatars have historically had to play second fiddle to the Mongols, the Fascists are now in danger of becoming as cinematically obscure and irrelevant as the Picts, the Alani, and various other remorseless enemies of mankind.

And frankly, that's just not right.

Joe Queenan is the author, most recently, of Queenan Country: A Reluctant Anglophile's Pilgrimage to the Mother Country.