A Special Dayof the title is May 8, 1938 when there is a rally in Rome to celebrate Hitler's visit to Mussolini and his Italian allies. All of the dwellers in a high rise apartment complex attend the gathering except Antonietta (Sophia Loren), an exhausted mother of six children, Gabriele (Marcello Mastroianni), a homosexual outcast and the building's ill-tempered concierge (Francoise Berd). The woman who has been regarded as nothing more than a baby machine by her macho fascist husband and the gay radio announcer who lost his job and is at the point of suicide find together a sense of mutual affirmation at persons. Their verbal and sexual coming together is a counterpoint to the blaring transmission of the rally from the courtyard radio of the concierge. Writer-director Scola nicely juxtaposes the gentle and caring behavior or this woman and man with the hysterical and hate-inducing behavior of the crowds caught up in Hitler worship.
Sophia Loren puts in her best performance since Two Women, and Mastroianni matches her stride for stride. The sensitive and affecting delineation of the movie's delicate subject matter is quite refreshing especially when one realize how others have sensationalize or mauled the same theme.