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.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

From A Roman Balcony, 1960

LA GIORNATA BALORDA from 1960 is another of those delicious black and white Italian dramas of the early '60s. It follows GIOVANA MARITI and LA NOTTE BRAVA which were discoveries for me a year or two ago, in the sequence of Italian films directed by Mauro Bolognini, and usually scripted by Pier Paolo Pasolini (before he started directing himself). Bolognini then went on to SENILITA in 1962 and CORRUPTION in 1963 - as per my reviews at Bolognini label.

FROM A ROMAN BALCONY (its English title) conjures up a vision of Italian high life, a la THE GREAT BEAUTY or decadence in high places (THE ROMAN SPRING OF MRS STONE) but the Rome we see here is pure Pasolini territory as we take in the details of an enormous tenement housing estate where all the balconies have washing hanging from them and is a very working class environment, where women cope with children and daily life.
Almost too glamorous for this environment is Davide, our young drifter hero, an early key role for Jean Sorel, whom we like a lot here. He is a rather feckless layabout with a baby and a young girlfriend who stay with her mother, as he idly looks for work and sleeps with any available woman .... we follow him around Rome, or the parts of Rome we see here - a scrubland of housing estates on the outskirts. We encounter several others like Paolo Stoppa or Rik Battaglia, whose wife Lea Massari (a very glamorous presence here, she was the girl who vanished in Antonioni's L'AVVENTURA the same year) who takes a shine to Davide. After a fruitless search for work or money, he ends up - as we knew he would - stealing a ring from the corpse we see laid out ..... so he has money when he returns to the apartment to play with his baby and girlfriend. It is just another day for Davide.
Sorel's Davide is a more attractive ACCATONE - Franco Citti in Pasolini's first feature. It seems Pasolini felt Bolognini glamorised his lowlifes by casting attractive players in his dramas - a la LA NOTTE BRAVA and here. LA GIORNATA BALORDA is only available now in an Italian only dvd but is engrossing enough that the language does not matter that much in enjoying the visuals - like those stunning opening and closing panning shots of the balconies and the housing estates. LA GIORNATA BALORDA/FROM A ROMAN BALCONY is a terrific additon to those Italian films of that early Sixties era, along with Bolognini's LA NOTTE BRAVA, Vancini's THE LONG NIGHT OF '43,  Lattuada's THE ADOLESCENTS, Visconti's ROCCO, Fellini's LA DOLCE VITA and of course Antonioni's L'AVVENTURA. Bolognini also went to to do sections of FOUR KINDS OF LOVE and THE QUEENS, as well as METELLO, GRAN BOLLITO and more.
The very prolific Jean Sorel (more on him at label - who said he was the poor man's Alain Delon?) is also 80 this year and still working. I particularly like him with Cardinale in Visconti's SANDRA in 1965, Duvivier's CHAIR DE POULE with Hossein in '63, AMELIE OU LE TEMPS D'AIMER in '62, and with Gina Lollobrigida in FOUR KINDS OF LOVE in 1965,, and of course Bunuel's BELLE DE JOUR in 1967, and those later giallo thrillers like SHORT NIGHT OF THE GLASS DOLLS in '71.


  1. A shame the Italian DVD doesn't have English subtitles. I hope a U.S. or U.K. label will pick up this worthy title soon. BTW, the Italian disc features the shorter censored version of the film, not the full-length one. "From a Roman Balcony" was heavily cut even after it's initial release, with most edits involving two exterior lovemaking scenes (Jean Sorel and Jeanne Valérie on a rooftop; Sorel and Lea Massari in the woods), and an interior scene with Valérie stripped down to her underwear. Some sources report that nearly 20 minutes were cut, though others indicate it was less than that.

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  3. Breaking news! And good news, it is.

    We now have English subtitles for "From a Roman Balcony." They just came on-line a few days ago:

    And, even more recent, you can now watch the movie with subtitles on YouTube:

    (My apologies for the deleted posts. Problems with those links required reposting.)

  4. hi Dan, just seen your comments. Thanks indeed for posting this info. I will be checking it out pronto. Interesting to know the film was cut, but its quite understandable without the sub-titles. Sorel and Massari are both fascinating in any language!

  5. Fascinating site - and with so many other choices too, and with-subitltes. I have book-marked several to return to.

    Thanks again, Mike.

  6. hi mike ... we at wish to carry your article on LA GIORNATA BALORDA ... please let us know ur consent or even otherwise ... u may also write to me at ... thanks...soumya