In What Did You Do in the War, Daddy? (1966), which takes place in Sicily during World War II, there is a portrait of Franklin D. Roosevelt who was President of the United States throughout the war except for the last five months (approx.) because of his death. The portrait is on the wall of the hotel lobby.

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There's no sequence in the film showing anyone placing the portrait there.

Italy was a member of the Axis and an enemy of the United States during the war. However, the Sicilian characters in the film are very uncombative.

Why was the portrait there? It was never referred to by the characters in the film.

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    Where is the portrait? Picture, youtube link or better description would help. It would be perfectly normal, for instance, for an invading force to replace the photo of the local incumbent with that of their own leader as they take command of such as a civic building for a new temporary headquarters. I mean, they're hardly likely to leave a picture of Mussolini or Hitler on the wall, are they?
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Nov 22, 2022 at 9:07
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    @Tetsujin: I added a screen grab showing the portrait. There is nothing in the film addressing the presence of the image or showing anyone placing it there. Commented Nov 22, 2022 at 13:33
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    Wow. The wall is angled between the staircase and the front window at exactly the right angle to make the portrait face directly at us.
    – Michael
    Commented Nov 22, 2022 at 18:44
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    Italy did switch sides in WWII in 1943 and join the allies (except for some who continued fighting for the Axis). But that was months after the Allied Invasion of Sicilty. I note that the allied invasion of Sicily was less than two years after war between the USA & Italy and some Sicilians, especially thouse with realtives in the USA, might still be displaying photos of FDR, not having taken them down yet.. Commented Nov 22, 2022 at 20:58

1 Answer 1


The movie is a comedy, and, as such, is playing with life's usual codes, irony, divergences, inverted gestures and postures, clichés...etc

For instance, two pictures from the movie show how sexy a weapon can be or how women were leaders and men followers at this time.

In the same spirit, showing FDR, can be seen as many (serious ot not) things, amongst which: Italian folks put it there so that they weren't all facists but welcoming 1. As they care more about soccer than anything else, using this portrait of FDR would put the GI's on their side.

Many things in comedies are just creating a discrepancy, this is one.

The director of this movie, Blake_Edwards, is also the one responsible for the pink panther movies :)

1. borne out by the fact that the wikipedia page of the movie states that "upon arrival, they discover that the townsfolk have been expecting them and will willingly turn themselves over to the Americans' rule."

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    Where is the quote from? Are those images from screen grabs from the film or are they publicity stills? In your leaders image, Lt. Christian was following Gina Romano for reasons other than her being a leader, in my opinion. Commented Nov 22, 2022 at 13:26
  • While I had assumed that this was symbolic of the residents' sympathies, I was hoping for something in which the director or someone associated with the film or a critic or other commentator addressed this. Commented Nov 22, 2022 at 13:35
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    There's no quote (wrong formatting?). Of course he's probably following her for another reason, that's the funny part of it :) found nothing from director/staff/actors explaining the portrait though, just my 2 cents
    – OldPadawan
    Commented Nov 22, 2022 at 13:43

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