The Scientific Cardplayer

“I find that the The Scientific Cardplayer is a very fair tale about the struggle of the weak against the powerful,” the director said of the film.

Silvana Mangano and Alberto Sordi in Lo scopone scientifico, a 1972 film directed by Luigi Comencini.

Italy in these seventies is in critical condition: the first signs of terrorism exacerbate social tension, an entire political system is falling apart, but of all this there is no trace in Comencini’s film that is deliberately kept away from reality and from the “committed” cinema: his wants to be an apologue, written with Sonego’s usual skill on the basis of a real event he had witnessed in Naples in 1947. [Source: A. Aprà, Luigi Comencini: cinema and films , Marsilio, 2007 p.187].
An apolitical film that instead contains a strongly political criticism [source: Federico Rossin in Lo scopone scientifico in op.cit. pag.287 and ff.]: the class struggle between rich and poor [cit. Morandini, Zanichelli on the corresponding item], the strength of money, always winning and morally justified: who is the real cheater, Righetto or the old woman who with all her money will always be the winner? Some critics have even seen a metaphor of American imperialism [The dear old woman keeps an album where she collects photos of all the players – only Peppino and Antonia are missing, next trophies – from all over the world: Syria, Chile, India, Philippines, Brazil with which it met and won] or the ingenuity of the underclass that falls into the illusion of the intellectual’s utopia: the “professor” who with his dreams leads the people to ruin.
Someone said: “Alberto Sordi’s acting was great, deliberately transformed into the mask of himself and that of Silvana Mangano, who under the bourgeois aspect, which does not suit her, preserves the aristocracy of her manner and figure. Bette Davis and Joseph Cotten are the last icons of a cinema of the thirties and forties, always mythical but dying in the face of the increasingly impetuous advent of television.

Video: The Scintific Cardplayer – Lo Scopone Scientifico (Luigi Comencini, 1972) – “The professor” explains the class struggle.

However the true healthy protagonists of the story are once again the children of Comencini [Luigi Comencini, Cinema in my opinion: writings and interviews (1974-1992), Il Castoro, 2008 p.34]:

“The child is the only one who possesses the truth. In fact, I have paid great attention to this child, and I believe this is seen … She has a precise sense of reality, sees things as they are, does not live in the same illusion of her family and the whole social fabric of the slum in which it is found: an illusion that leads them all to madness »[Federico Rossin, op. cit. pag. 290]

The scientific scopone

Original title: Lo scopone scientifico
Original language Italian
Country of production Italy
Year 1972
Duration 116 min
Ratio 1.85: 1
Comedy genre, dramatic
Directed by Luigi Comencini
Subject Rodolfo Sonego
Screenplay Rodolfo Sonego
Producer Dino De Laurentiis
Executive producer Fausto Saraceni
Titanus production company
Distribution in Italian Dino De Laurentis Inter MA. Co.
Photography Giuseppe Ruzzolini
Editing Nino Baragli
Piero Piccioni Music
Set design Luigi Scaccianoce
Bruna Parmesan costumes


Alberto Sordi: Peppino
Silvana Mangano: Antonia, Peppino’s wife
Bette Davis: the old American billionaire
Joseph Cotten: George
Mario Carotenuto: Armando Castellini, called ‘the professor’
Domenico Modugno: Righetto
Antonella Di Maggio: Cleopatra
Daniele Dublin: Don Roberto, the parish priest
Luciana Lehar: Jolanda, Peppino’s sister
Franca Scagnetti: Pasqualina, the cook
Guido Cerniglia: the personal doctor of the old woman
Piero Morgia: exploiter of Jolanda
Dalila Di Lazzaro: nurse
Ennio Antonelli: Uncle Osvaldo, funeral director
Giacomo De Michelis: borgataro
Giselda Castrini: colleague of Jolanda
Marco Tulli: luxury funeral director

Original voice actors

Lia Zoppelli: the old American billionaire

The Scientific Cardplayer in the theater: Video of the Association La rive gauche, The scientific scopone directed by Enzo Ardone:


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