THE SECRET OF SANTA VITTORIA. Bombolini (Anthony Quinn), is the mayor of the hillside village of Santa Vittorio... He is in terrible crisis... Where to hide his precious wine? l,317,000 bottles more or less... as the Germans led by Hardy Kruger advance on their town. Add in Anna Magnani as Bombolini's bitter volatile wife and Virna Lisi as the local Contessa ... and let the heavy hand of Stanley Kramer direct (see SHIP OF FOOLS review below). Was this Hollywood's idea of comedy in 1969 ? More utter trash then as every cliche is dusted down, like the Contessa and the civilised German officer being attracted to each other, her true love is that noble soldier (Sergio Franchi) - it took 2 writers to come up with this from a Robert Crichton novel ?
The wine is hidden in an old Roman cave and has to be hidden so well that the Germans will not find the bottles. When the Germans arrives, it becomes a battle of wits for the possession of the wine. Quinn & Co play Italian by numbers, with lots of local colour - all those 'colorful' Italians and those peasant faces. It is set during the war but there is not even a gunshot here let along anyone killed. The germans just arrive without any local resistance! No wonder Anna looks exasperated making this piece of Hollywood crap.. 1968's BUONA SERA MRS CAMBELL with Lollobrigida, was much more amusing. Quinn had played so many nationalities, Greek on several occasions: ZORBA and THE GUNS OF NAVARONE (there is still an 'Anthony Quinn beach' in Rhodes where that war opus was filmed), he had already teamed well with Magnani in Cukor's WILD IS THE WIND in 1957 (Magnani label), and teamed several times with Loren, and Lollo (I loved their 1956 HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME in 1956, when I was a kid.). This is an overlong way to pass an evening or wet afternoon; not one to keep my copy went straight into the garbage can. Quinn (1915-2001) though was marvellous as that Arab sheik Auda Abu Tayi in Lean's LAWRENCE OF ARABIA.