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Vittorio Oriani

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Vittorio Oriani is a supporting character in both the novel and the film Von Ryan's Express. In the film he is played by Sergio Fantoni.

Like his commanding officer Bassilio Battaglia, whether Oriani is a heroic character or a villain is dependent on if one is reading the book or watching the movie. He is a heroic character in the movie.

Novel

Major Oriani is Colonel Battaglia's second in command. Against Battaglia's wishes he often abuses the prisoners cruelly. When the Italians surrender, Battaglia commits suicide and the prison guards all flee, however Oriani throws in with the Nazis and helps them hunt down the escaped Allies.

Film

Captain Oriani is a much different character in the movie. He is only an antagonist, never an outright villain, and only for the first half of the film. It is Battaglia, not him, who mistreats the prisoners, over his heartfelt objections. Nevertheless, Oriani does as he is bade and ensures the Allied captives remain imprisoned in the camp and does his best to foil escape attempts. He also wears an eyepatch, something not described in the novel. When Fascist Italy surrenders, Oriani initially remains at the now liberated camp out of misplaced duty to Battaglia, but eventually he throws in with the prisoners and fully becomes a hero, helping them evade the Nazis and eventually he joins them in escaping into Switzerland at the end.

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