By Graham Healy
Totò was one of the most popular comic actors in Italy in the 20th century and worked with many of the biggest names in Italian cinema such as Sophia Loren, Claudia Cardinale and Marcello Mastroianni.
In 1948, he starred in Totò al giro d’Italia which featured some of the biggest names in cycling.
Totò stars as a mild-mannered professor in the film who wants to impress his students. He decides that he should try and beat the sport’s biggest stars at the Giro d’Italia, but finds he’s hopelessly out of his depth.
In desperation, Totò makes a pact with the devil. In exchange for being able to win all the biggest bike races, he had to give his soul to the devil.
Coming into the last race, Totò cannot win or else he will have to pay the ultimate price. Along with his friends, he comes up with a plot to outsmart the devil.
Amongst those who played cameos in the film were Gino Bartali, Fausto Coppi, Louison Bobet, Briek Schotte, Fiorenzo Magni and Ferdi Kubler and the film has some great shots of these big-name riders.
Footage from races of that era are often quite grainy, so the higher definition quality of the film is refreshing to see.
This is the film in full, and even without understanding Italian, it’s worth a look.