Archive of films Numbered Days / I giorni contati

1961, 100 min

Section: Tribute to Elio Petri
Year: 2014

Many consider this little-known existential drama, which mixes influences of Italian Neorealism and the French New Wave, as one of Petri’s key works. While riding the tram, aging plumber Cesare witnesses the sudden death of a man his own age. Reacting to the shock, he quits his job so as to experience as intensely as possible days he considers numbered.


Tonino Guerra, the famed Italian screenwriter of Amarcord, Blow-up, and Kaos, contributed to Petri’s first three films, including Numbered Days, one of the most intriguing although lesser-known European films of the early 1960s. The script draws on a fundamental experience for the director, whose father quit working at the age of fifty after he realized he’d sacrificed almost 80% of his life to hard labor. Fifty-two-year-old plumber-protagonist Cesare makes the same sudden decision as a result of a shock he suffers on the tram when the person next to him – a man of about his age – drops dead of a heart attack. The childless widower is aghast at the thought that maybe his days are numbered too, and he becomes consumed by the idea of making the most of the time he has left. The streets of the Italian capital, through which he blunders jobless as if in a trance, have many bizarre encounters in store for him. In the choice of story, narrative technique, and style, Petri combines the influences of Italian Neorealism and the French New Wave. The result is a fascinating political picture with a strong existential dimension focusing on the true value of work. Relying on the energy of contrasts and making excellent use of actual Roman exteriors, Petri cast the little-known but outstanding Sicilian theater actor Salvo Randone, whom he presents as a comprehensive personification of alienation, a topic that was intensely felt and often used in pictures made approximately 50 years ago.


Cineteca di Bologna
Via dell'Industria 2, 40138, Bologna
Tel: +39 051 601 8607
Fax: +39 051 601 8628

Hollywood Classics
Suite 31, Beaufort Court, Admirals Way, E14 9XL, London
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 207 517 7525

About the film

Black & white, DCP

Section: Tribute to Elio Petri
Director: Elio Petri
Screenplay: Elio Petri, Carlo Romano, Tonino Guerra
Dir. of Photography: Ennio Guarnieri
Music: Ivan Vandor
Editor: Ruggero Mastroianni
Producer: Goffredo Lombardo
Production: Titanus/Metro
Cast: Salvo Randone, Franco Sportelli, Regina Bianchi, Vittorio Caprioli, Paolo Ferrari
Contact: Cineteca di Bologna, Hollywood Classics


Melanie Tebb

Sales Agent

Paola Pegoraro


Rainer J. Hanshe


Milena Gregor

Film Institution Rep.


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