In 1920, the anarchist Italian immigrants Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were sentenced to death in the USA, falsely accused of a robbery and murder. This was a time when the ruling class had been given a fright by the Russian revolution, and they tried to break the growing socialist, anarchist and trade union movements.
Sacco & Vanzetti were convicted of murdering two men during the armed robbery of a shoe factory in Massachusetts in 1920. Among the members of the Defence Committee in Boston was Mary Donovan, who had been a Sinn Féin organizer. Among those in Ireland who took up their case was George Bernard Shaw.
After a controversial trial, a series of appeals, and a large but ultimately unsuccessful international campaign to free them, the two were executed on August 23, 1927.
In 1977, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis issued a proclamation that Sacco and Vanzetti had been unfairly tried and convicted and that “any disgrace should be forever removed from their names”.
In 1971 Sacco & Vanzetti, an Italian language feature film (with English subtitles) was made, with much of the filming in Dublin. Among those appearing were Irish actors Cyril Cusack and Milo O’Shea. The soundtrack was by Ennio Morricone, who also composed the music for spaghetti westerns like The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, and A Fistful of Dollars.