Marcello Clerici (Jean Louis Trintignant – the closest to us with his back while the farthest sitting at the desk is the boss) successfully applied for a high position as a secret agent.

Marcello is not alien to pleasant cheerful pop-songs, which pacifies him while he is trying to find a good “respectable” job.

With sweet female singers in the background of his future success Marcello feels triumphantly uplifted to the degree that his face turns vulgar while his hands on his chest opens his soul to the bosses of his promising future.

Marcello’s friend (Dominique Sanda) – ballet teacher providing classes for little girls from rich families – is her noble future and soon will be a victim up to now still preparing the girls for pirouettes.

Marcello is waiting for his ballet instructor friend (Dominique Sanda) – to end her lesson for the day, a friend whom he more than sympathizes with – dreams of getting intimately close to her and even recruit her as a secret agent – while she is an antifascist (and she wants to use the situation to get him work as an agent on her side.

A rare and rather eccentric character in the film is Pascualino Semirama (Pierre Clementi) – an unemployed homosexual living during scarcity and war under Mussolini and kills street cats to save himself from hunger. Look at the innocent, appealing and frightened gaze of a person barely having survived the street life at the end of WWII. He tried to seduce the preadolescent boy with Pascualino’s shining gun he exchanged god knows where. The boy was incredibly happy – he felt super-strong holding gun in his hand and pointing it at the world. But Lino himself was the one who gave the boy the gun and something happened – the boy impulsively or even bravely, as if, pulled the trigger and the bullet is created shock in the poor Lino and the poor boy was believing that this is him who killed Lino. But Lino was just wounded and had lost consciousness. In panic the boy tossed the gun across the room. Finally he run away while Lino was laying on the ground in his own blood. But Pascualino somewhere in his subconscious mind still remembered the semi closeness of their two faces touching one another, when the boy’s hand and Lino’s were manipulating the gun with their hands.

Here, we see that Giulia (Stefania Sandrelli) Marcello’s wife and professor Luca Quadri (Enzo Tarascio) a serious antifascist – dancing together in spite of the unreality of the reality while Anna (Dominique Sanda) – professors wife will soon dance with Giulia – seductively and intimately. Everything will be “resolved” tragically – Luca Quadri will be murdered by a gang of fascists, while Anna, his wife will be hunted/chased down by the fascist goons. The husband and wife – both will be monstrously murdered. May be, Anna Quadri was a bit too close or a bit touchy with Guilia, or, may be Guilia was a bit too drunk with Professor Quadry, but Anna and Luca gave their lives for the sake of saving lives. And their sacrificial gift helped those who will not be tormented in future and will be able to avoid terrors.