The Organizer (I Compagni) takes a gritty, near-documentary approach to its subject matter: the exploitation of Italian laborers in the 19th century. Shorn of all his studio-imposed glamour, Marcello Mastrioanni plays a Genoan political refugee visiting a friend in Turin.
Appalled by the horrible working conditions in the town's textile mill, Mastrioanni stays on to organize the workers in a strike. Though he is nearly killed several times, Mastrioanni survives to set an example for the workers, who rally together into a powerful union.
The fact that Marcello Mastrioanni was bearded and bespectacled in the manner of a Bolshevist radical was enough for The Organizer to be condemned by certain extreme anti-Communist elements in Hollywood--to no avail, since the film was nominated for an American Oscar, and even given a commendation by the ultraconservative National Board of Review.