|Sophia escapes from the barrel|
Cue monks who can fly, other saints in the air (we can see the wires holding them) and those cackling old witches, as well as a mountain of eggs hatching out little chicks. Sophia is accused of being a witch too and is put in a barrel which rolls away to the sea and she is rescued from it by some children. Then we have the seven princesses at the palace who have to win the prince by winning the dish-washing competition - our peasant cinderella is doing fine until the plates mysteriously start to break .... leaving one scheming princess the winner. Sophia though is advised by a flying monk as to how she was cheated and she returns, leading to the inevitable happy ending. This is an Italian only dvd, no English sub-titles but they are not necessary.
1962's THE CONDEMNED OF ALTONA is very different fare. What surprised me is how much I was engrossed by it as had imagined it would be very tedious if not boring,. It is hardly that. The first 10 minutes is all Fredric March as Gerlach, a wealthy industrialist in Hamburg who is being told he has inoperable cancer - he bargains for 6 months more and returns to survey his empire at the Hamburg docks, and then summons his son Werner (Robert Wagner) and his actress wife Joanna (Sophia) to his country estate at Altona. He wants the son to take over the business but Werner is reluctant to give up his lawyer practice. There was another son Franz who died in the war .... This could all be heavy going but De Sica and Loren know how to engage an audience and retain our interest. The credentials though are top notch: the play by Sartre, music by Shostakovich, an excerpt from Brecht's "Arturo Ui".
1955's LUCKY TO BE A WOMAN (La Fortuna di Essere Donna) is I think Loren's last Italian film before she went off to those American productions made in Europe (THE PRIDE AND THE PASSION, BOY ON A DOLPHIN, LEGEND OF THE LOST) which I liked so much at the time ... This is a breezy, inconsequential, but likeable comedy about a photographer, played by Marcello Mastroianni (his 3rd with Loren) who snaps a Roman beauty thus launching her on a successful career as a model, thus attracting the attention of wealthy Charles Boyer. Elisa Cegani is marvellous as Boyer's long-suffereing wife who gets her revenge in a delicious restaurant scene (rather like Dolores Gray with Greg Peck in DESIGNING WOMAN, 1957). Again, no English subtitles in this Italian only dvd, but they hardly matter. Like TOO BAD SHE'S BAD (also by Blasetti the previous year 1954) and WOMAN OF THE RIVER (as per my previous Loren posts on these favourites of mine) this is enjoyable stuff from before Sophia went international ....now where can I get SCANDAL IN SORRENTO, also 1955 ?