Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Italian choices: Marcello & Jacques, Anna & Giulietta

CRONACA FAMILIARE (FAMILY DIARY), 1962. Finally, a look at Valerio Zurlini’s absorbing family drama with brilliant performances from Marcello Mastroianni and Jacques Perrin. Post-war Italy looks marvellous, as lensed by Giussepe Rottuno, and produced by Geoffredo Lombardo. Sylvie scores too as the grand-mother. It is all as marvellous as De Sica’s GARDEN OF THE FINZI-CONTINI (Italian label). Zurlini’s film is a melancholy meditation on two very different brothers, poor tubucular writer Enrico (Mastroianni) and the also ailing Lorenzo – Perrin is as effective here as he was in Zurlini’s GIRL WITH A SUITCASE or Bolognini’s LA CORRUZIONE, and of course this was Mastroianni’s great era too.. 
The downbeat story is totally affecting and leaves one in an emotional state. Did I say it looks marvellous? Its a perfectly restored print.
HELL IN THE CITY, 1959  (aka CAGED, Nella Citta L’Inferno) . Marvellous widescreen black and white drama with lots of comic moments from Renato Castellani and scipted by veteran Suso Cecchi D'Amico, which is a showcase for two of Italy’s greatest actresses Anna Magnani and Giulietta Masina. We are in a Roman prison, run by nuns. Masina is Lina, the timid newcomer, a variation on Masina’s CABIRIA – Lina is another lovelorn waif, seemingly a bit simple, who has been sent to prison for unknowingly aiding a robbery – a maid for a rich family, she was fooled by a man (Alberti Sordi doing a cameo) who got her to allow him into the house and then took her to the cinema while his accomplice carried out the robbery. Lina cries a lot and exasperates hardened criminal Egle – Magnani, forever in her black slip, as she dominates the screen. 
The other inmates are a varied bunch and we get involved in some stories. Renato Salvatori plays Piero, whom the nice young girl can see with the aid of a mirror, and there may be a happy ending for them. Lina finally leaves but will she be back? SPOILER AHEAD: Yes she does return and is now a hardened criminal, Egle is horrified to see how she has changed as Lina thanks her for teaching her the tricks of the trade. It is a satisfying conclusion and the two leads play it to the hilt. 

Antonioni, Fellini and Visconti as well as De Sica and Rossellini may have been the Italian great directors (along with Pasolini & Bertolucci and more), but its been fascinating catching up with those early films by Mauro Bolognini (1922-2001),which we like a lot here - LA NOTTE BRAVA, GIOVANI MARITI, CORRUPTION, SENILITA, METELLO, GRAN BOLLITO etc (as reviewed at Italian label). I still have to see Mastroianni & Cardinale in his highly-regarded IL BELL'ANTONIO, 1960, and Belmondo and Cardinale in LA VIACCIA, 1961., 

Another one, not available now, is his equally fascinating sounding FROM A ROMAN BALCONY (LA GIORNATA BALORDA), 1960, from a Moravia novel, with those attractive players Jean Sorel and Lea Massari. The trailer for it is on YouTube though:
Bolognini also did episodes in those Italian compendium films I like: LE BAMBOLE (Four Kinds of Love - the hilarious and sexy Sorel & Lollobrigida episode) and LE FATA (The Queens), Sorel with Raquel Welch. 

Next Italian: Marcello and Romy in FANTASMA D'AMORE, 1981 - finally, a sub-titled print, and the Blu-ray of THE GREAT BEAUTY.  

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