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Franco Citti, Franca Pasut, Silvana Corsini, Paola Guidi,
Pasolini’s first film is set in the milieu of his early novels Ragazzi di vita (1955) and Una vita violenta (1959)—the world of prostitutes, pimps, and layabouts living on the outskirts of Rome and existing outside of both bourgeois and proletarian morality. The film shares some qualities with neorealism, but Pasolini’s unsentimental approach to the cruelty and craftiness of poverty’s children makes Federico Fellini’s vitelloni look like the princes they are. No, this is a Dantean netherworld, and like the central character, it is of interest to Pasolini, prized even, precisely for its refusal of redemption. The filmmaker graces it with his understated visual passion, at once lyrical and honest, not incongruously set to Bach. In the character of Accattone—a street nickname meaning “pimp” or “scrounger”—Pasolini introduces the first of his remarkable finds: Franco Citti (brother of his friend and collaborator Sergio Citti), an actor whose rough-hewn beauty is like a slap in the face.