Massacre In Rome depicts one of the worst atrocities of the War which took place in Nazi occupied Rome sparking a searing political outrage: did the Vatican, then led by Pope Pius XII (referred to by some as "Hitler's Pope"), kowtow to Nazism?
After Italian Partisans killed 33 German soldiers by exploding a roadside bomb, Hitler ordered the immediate execution of 10 Roman citizens for each dead soldier. When the Vatican withdrew from the matter, a deadly confrontation ensued between a priest, (Mastroianni) and a Nazi Officer Kapler (Burton at his best) who had been ordered to administer what would become one of the most heinous war crimes: the massacre of 335 civilians.
Director Cosmatos and writer Robert Katz crank up the tension in this nerve-wracking dramatisation of Katz's own, highly contentious, 1967 best-seller "Death in Rome" in which he blamed Pope Pius XII for the massacre; and for which the author was sued, upon the film's release, by the Pope's heirs and sentenced to jail. The controversy continues to date as the present Pope, Benedict, has just declared Pius XII "venerable" - the first step towards Sainthood.
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