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, 23 January 2017

Sixties rarity: I Knew Her Well, 1965

I KNEW HER WELL, 1965. Despite my interest in Italian cinema, and the Sixties, I had never heard of this one until some recent reviews. It never played here in the UK or was mentioned in the quality film magazines of the time. (I was 19 in 1965 and seeing them all).  Looking at it now, on the Criterion dvd, it is an absolute treasure. All that mod black and white 1960s photography with a heroine, a model forever changing her looks, hairstyles and clothes as she goes through the LA DOLCE VITA Roman high society. The Criterion blurb says:
This prismatic portrait of the days and nights of a party girl in sixties Rome is a revelation. On the surface it plays like an inversion of LA DOLCE VITA with a woman at its centre, following the gorgeous,seemingly liberating Adriana (Stefania Sandrelli) as she dallies with a wide variety of men, attends parties, goes on modelling gigs, constantly changing looks and hairstyles, and circulates among the rich and famous. But despite its often light tone, the film ultimately becomes a stealth portrait of a suffocating culture that dehumanises people, especially women. A character study that never strays from its complicated central figure, I KNEW HER WELL is one of the most overlooked films of the Sixties, by turns funny, tragic and altogether jawdropping, as directed by Antonio Pietrangeli.

I go along with that, the parallels with the Fellini epic are obvious. Interesting that DARLING must also have been in production at the same time, showcasing that English party girl on the make.  It all looks as good as Visconti’s SANDRA, also 1965.
The lead here is Stefania Sandrelli, who is endlessly fascinating as simple country girl Adriana, adrift in Rome. I only knew her from DIVORCE ITALIAN STYLE and THE CONFORMIST. She is fascinating on the dvd extras, 50 years later, in her early 70s and still working now.
Adriana seems a happy-go-lucky girl unaffected by her enjoyment of the high life and dealing with all those various men who constantly exploit her: Jean-Claude Brialy, Nino Manfredi, Mario Adorf, Ugo Tognazzi. But gradually the mood darkens and one can sense what is going to happen …. With Franco Nero and Karin Dor.
Pietrangeli died aged 49 in 1968, so did not have a long career. I liked some others he did including the Capucine and Alberto Sordi episode of THE QUEENS in 1965, SOUVENIR D’ITALIE in 1957, and GHOSTS OF ROME in 1961. I KNEW HER WELL though is his masterpiece, part social satire and critique of the society he depicts as we follow his na├»ve heroine, It is for me an essential Italian discovery like Bolognini’s CORRUPTION in 1963, or  Vancini’s THE LONG NIGHT OF ’43, or Lattuada’s I DOLCI INGANNI in 1961 also focusing completely on a female lead (Catherine Spaak). See Italian label for more on those, 

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