on 22 August 2010
Boccaccio '70 is an Italian film that is made up of four parts, each being directed by a different person. Mario Monicelli, Federico Fellini, Luchino Visconti and Vittorio de Sica direct the four shorts. The only thing they have in common is they deal with love and life. Furthermore, they each have an unforgettable woman that is beautiful and enchanting. The four parts addd up to be a great sampling of Italian cinema and show why it is fun.
The first story shows us how ridiculous life can be. A woman working at an office is forbidden to be married or even have a boy friend, so she must secretly marry the man she loves. Keeping her secret from her boss isn't so easy and is quite funny.
Next, a man that goes out of his way to uphold morality and force women to cover up is faced with a provocative giant-size advertisement. He finds the woman on the billboard, which encourages people to drink milk, too stimulating. He becomes just as obsessed with the woman on the billboard as he does with his quest to cover it up.
The third part is probably the most somber. A wealthy count is exposed in the press using the services of expensive call girls. His beautiful wife is faced with this trying situation and professes to find work so that she can make her own money. But living a pampered life, her options are limited.
The final story stars Sophia Loren as a carnival worker who schemes a way to make some fast money to pay her bills. She ends up selling tickets to a lottery in which she is the prize for one night. The guy courting her isn't too happy when he finds out and the winner is so timid he hardly knows what to do.
Although all of the stories are entertaining, my favorite one is the fantasy about the giant woman. It is fortunate that these shorts were assembled into this package because as stand alone films they probably would not have been as marketable and remained unknown. Boccaccio '70 makes an enjoyable introduction to Italian cinema.
I bought this DVD because I am interested in the work of the director Luchino Visconti. But this movie of four-films-in-one, each separate film directed by a different Italian (the others are Mario Monicelli, Federico Fellini, and Vittorio de Sica) under overall producer Carlo Ponti, has proved to be an interesting and valued purchase for all four movies.
Produced in 1962 as a take on modern romance in the style of the Renaissance poet Boccaccio's `Decameron', I can understand why the original film may not have been hot box office material when it was first released. Despite featuring some of the hottest Italian and international stars of the day - Sophia Loren, Anita Ekberg, Romy Schneider, Peppino de Filippo, Alfio Vita - it would be asking much for a member of the audience to sit through four films in one go, whose aggregate running time is over three hours. But watched separately on consecutive evenings, the outlooks that each film gives about modern Italian relationships in the 1960s is entertaining and insightful. There are also many features of these films that comment on other aspects of modern life, even on the film-making process itself, but this is sadly not the place to review such matters. Instead, I give a brief synopsis of each film.
In the first movie (directed by Monicelli) a young couple in the brave new world of postwar northern Italy (high-rise flats and down-payments for a new cooker) cannot let their employer know that they have secretly married for fear of losing their jobs. Fellini's film is a clever take on the story of the temptation of Saint Anthony; in this case a self-appointed moral guardian in Rome is haunted by a lascivious billboard advertising milk. Visconti's contribution is set in high-class Milanese society (where else?), where a young but penniless count has married a young-but-rich industrialist's daughter. She wants to work for a living, but the job she finds is not what she expected. Finally, de Sica's is in his element at the fair in Lugo, where an illiterate female stallholder becomes the raffle-prize for the night, a prize won by the church sacristan.
Ponti said that despite Visconti's film being shot on only the one set, his was the most expensive of the four. All four films have their comic elements, whether it's the slapstick of Doctor Antonio during an al fresco lunch or the bumbling patter of Count Ottavio's lawyer. Music for two of the films is provided by Nino Rota. My DVD comes with an 18 certificate. I have no idea why this is so.
Whether you're a fan of Italian cinema, have a hankering for the 1960s, have an interest in late-twentieth century social studies, or just enjoy good films, this DVD provides you with four classics in one. Alas, there are no extras.
on 30 July 2010
Actually, I believe the "'70" reference was a bit of a joke between the directors as they figured it wouldn't be released until 1970 due to censorship restrictions. You see, all stories have an underlying "sex" theme.
This movie is quite a commitment at 3 hours & 15 minutes running time, but the good news is that you can watch it in 4 x 50-minute segments (if you so desire) and not really lose anything, as the four segments have nothing at all to do with each other. Everybody has their favorite story and mine would be a toss-up between the Fellini and De Sica efforts. Fellini has the more interesting story (with an affectionate nod to "Attack Of The 50' Woman") but De Sica has Sophia Loren. This made it awfully hard to read the subtitles when Sophia was onscreen. She looks absolutely stunning and it is virtually impossible to take your eyes off her to read the subs. Having said that, I'd like to add that the stories don't really add up to much in and of themslves, and to me..well, the film is early '60s Italian eye-candy (which I love!) and not much more.
The dvd I speak of is the 'Mr Bongo' one. It plays ALL regions. Print quality is excellent (though not pristine) and it is in anamorphic wide screen. The Italian subtitles are removable. You also get "scene selection" and it comes in very handy if you are strapped for time and want to watch this movie over a period of 3 or 4 days. No other extras are included.
Don't kid yourself, this movie is by no means a 'classic'... but it sure is one hell of a pleasant diversion.
on 28 August 2015
i gave it four stars for the Fellini episode, one of his funniest and most creative films. You can see EUR, ine of Rome's most peculiar and unexpected, abstract places, that Fellini used as few peole before or after him, showing all hissingularity, inside a story that is a provocation and a mean joke at the same time, against puritanism and italian mentality, althoug Fellini has never just attacked or criticized it, but told it off with a certain affection, regarding it as a unique carnival of excellent and blameful aspects. The other interesting episode is by Visconti, maybe a little boring but made with a fine elegance, which conveys all the stillness and sterility of upper classes life in a decadent and self-referred side of the city. Blu ray is very good
on 6 March 2015
Produced by Carlo Ponti in 1962, this suite of four stories named after the 14th century author Giovanni Boccaccio gives four very different snapshots of Italian life. They alternate between sad and humorous, two of each, with no obvious connecting thread apart from being Italian.
Renzo and Luciana (Renzo e Luciana) – Mario Monicelli
A quiet and rather sad film about two newly-married factory workers who have to hide their relationship from the managers because it's against regulations. They also lack any kind of privacy while living in the wife's family home. When a factory tyrant discovers their secret they both get the sack, but defiantly find new jobs and move to an apartment of their own. That doesn't work out too well either... It's not a particularly inspiring film but perfectly watchable first time around, and perhaps it would have had more impact at the time of its release in 1962.
The temptation of Dr Antonio (Le tentazioni del dottor Antonio) – Federico Fellini
Unmistakably Fellini right from the opening shots, this is his first film in colour and he uses it with glee. The story almost has the quality of a fairy tale, with a boo-hiss puritan villain who sees evil in every embrace or glimpse of flesh and who meets his nemesis in the form of Anita Ekberg. She first appears as a huge glamour icon on an advertising hording, but splendidly comes to life to torment, seduce and destroy him. Full of Fellini's trademark weird characters and little processions, it also has some wonderful shots such as the huge mechanical digger that trundles behind the villain as he's delivering a doomsday speech to a group of boy scouts. As well as being funny, this scene marks the beginning of his downfall.
The job (Il lavoro) – Luchino Visconti
Is this Visconti's homage to his fellow-director Fellini's earlier film La Dolce Vita? Both are about the upper strata of Italian society, the rich who have no need to work and no interests other than entertaining themselves. They are bored out of their minds, in short, and extra-marital fun and games offer some relief to the tedium. Both of the main protagonists in this film are thoroughly dislikeable, although one can perhaps feel a touch of sympathy for Romy Schneider's character who vows to get a job but can't find anything she's capable of, except... well, it goes to show money doesn't buy happiness.
The raffle (La riffa) – Vittorio De Sica
You get the impression De Sica enjoyed making this film. It's a silly but fun story about the sexy female owner (Sophia Loren) of a fairground shooting booth who, faced with a huge bill for unpayed tax, offers herself as a raffle prize for a one-night stand. The ticket agent sets a high price but with only 70 tickets available there is no shortage of takers. This bright idea begins to unravel when she accepts the attentions of a handsome young suitor who decides she is nobody's prize but his. The fairground setting and larger-than-life characters place this film more in the realm of fantasy than romantic comedy - a moral tale with a sense of humour.
Though an ardent Fellini fan, it took me some time before getting round to buying this 'portmanteau' of four separate stories from Italy's leading directors of the time.
Which was actually 1962 and not the 1970 that the title suggests. Portraying love, sex and lust in the 'modern age' hence the futuristic date in the title each part is 50 minutes long and in my experience, is best watched in two sittings. You'll probably have read that as well as Fellini, Vittorio de Sica, Luchino Visconti and Mario Monicelli, all but the last being very well known to knowledgeable film buffs.
It takes nine writers, including input and ideas from the directors themselves to mould the very different stories here. The women definitely hold the upper hand in every one of them, loftily placed on pedestals - busty Anita Ekberg in Fellini's; Romy Schneider in Visconti's and Sophia Loren in de Sica's.
The first segment, from Monicelli, is actually a bonus on the DVD as it was apparently cut from theatrical releases shown outside Italy. But, actually, that part is a good setting point - ordinary young female factory workers who live with the worry of everyday life and love and the hanging threat of old traditions, the Church and ruthless employers who attempt to quell their youthful desire for sex. Some scenes, with busy trams and bustling street scenes at rush-hour, remind me of the earlier classic 'Bicycle Thieves'.
Visconti's part is a talky - and fairly boring - 'discussion', fixed to one nice, very posh apartment. The subject is now rather ordinary, probably unlike then, that I'm wanting more substance and variety. There again, I never was 'into' Visconti - high on style and period detail but low on flair and exuberance, at least compared to the others.
Fellini was in the late autumn of his career at this point and this manifests itself by him displaying some trademark vaguely tasteless wit, swipes at Catholicism and Authority but surprising us with some truly inspiring set-pieces. His first foray into colour, it's a very bumpy and uneven ride, bounding from barely watchable to reassuringly great and familiar.
A young and very shapely Sophia Loren, under De Sica, is used to portray many themes in neo-realist Italian cinema - Life itself. Outdoor fairs, sultry night-times when lovers and larger-than-life characters come out to play and village pettiness all affect this red-dressed temptress, who, like so many, yearn for greater and better things. It's at a touch funny and sad, but oddly, not as compelling as it should be. Though never the greatest actress, Loren doesn't let the side down, but her raw physical beauty always means that is what is seen first, before emotional depth.
Critical reviews vary - some quarters saying that it's a lot of wasted talent. My immediate response is that all the directors and key players have done far better work and those seeking them out for the first time should look elsewhere - I'd hate for anyone to be put off potentially brilliant Italian cinema by them watching this and being disappointed.
However, for Completists, like me, who have seen and loved these great director's best films, then the draw will become insufferably great and purchase will become inevitable. At least this quality transfer Mr Bongo release allows us to sample this odd collection at a good value price.
on 6 May 2009
I first saw this European classic at a little film club screening many, many years ago and loved every minute of it. The version we saw only had the three inserts, so I can only comment on those. Of course, this movie is all about the women it features - three of cinema's most memorable beauties. All three contributions are wonderful but the Visconti one stayed with me the longest. I was entranced by Romy Schneider, who I had not heard of at that time, and in my opinion her performance is the stand-out of the three, although Sophia Loren is no slouch of course. The film is very enjoyable throughout but Visconti piece is a ravishing cinematic treat, beautifully shot in gorgeous saturated colours. The dialogue is also great and the interplay between the husband and wife characters rings very true. And of course, Romy is incredibly beautiful! I am very pleased to discover that this classic is now available on DVD.
on 3 May 2015
I showed this film as a cinema projectionist years ago and it brought back memories.
The main memory was that the Romy Schneider episode was incredibly boring, pretentious, and still is.
The version we showed was dubbed and didn't include the first story on this disc.
on 10 April 2015
Good movie to remind ourselves what 50 ties really were . When great migration to urbane centres moved nations from countryside. The same as The Rocco and his brothers - Reality. Also Actors at that time were still actors - not industry employees.
on 12 July 2012
'105 Boccaccio '70' (Monicelli/Fellini/Visconti/de Sica, 1962, 208/150')
Boccaccio '70 is a 1962 Italian episode film directed by Mario Monicelli, Federico Fellini, Luchino Visconti and Vittorio de Sica, from an idea by Cesare Zavattini. It is an collection of four episodes, each by one of the directors, all about a different aspect of morality and love in modern times, in the style of Boccaccio.
The first episode, by Monicelli, was only included in the Italian distribution of the film. Out of solidarity towards Monicelli, the other three directors did not go to the Cannes Film Festival for the presentation of the film.
The four episodes are as follows,
1-Renzo e Luciana (by Mario Monicelli) with Marisa Solinas and Germano Gilioli: A young couple tries to hide their marriage and the wife's supposed pregnancy from the draconian book-keeper of their employer, who has banned female employees from getting married and having children but does not mind a few cheap thrills at their expense himself.
2-Le tentazioni del dottor Antonio (by Federico Fellini) with Peppino de Filippo and Anita Ekberg: An elderly citizen is fed up with too much immorality in the form of indecent content in print. His anger knows no bounds when a provocative billboard of Anita Ekberg advertising 'Drink more milk' is put up in a park near his residence. Little does he know how that billboard will go on to change his life. The image begins to haunt him with hallucinations in which she appears as a temptress and Dr Antonio as Saint George, to spear the dragon.
3-Il lavoro (by Luchino Visconti) with Romy Schneider and Tomas Milian: An aristocratic couple coming to terms with life and marriage after the husband is caught visiting prostitutes by the press.
4-La riffa (by Vittorio de Sica) with Sophia Loren: A lottery with the winner entitled to one night with the attractive Zoe (Sophia Loren). Zoe. however, has other plans.
Monicelli's is the only episode, and perhaps the best, with some social bite rather than a plain variation of plain old sex as a topic - that's why the distributor did not want it in the international copy; also, it showed that the other episodes had not kept to the given time! Fellini presents a longish variation of his regular sketches of Italian society and life (which has done much better in his regular films), and Schneider/Visconti and Loren/de Sica are simply themselves, not even a variation...
Except for Monicelli, and perhaps Fellini, hardly worth seeing any more.
'105 - Boccaccio '70' (Monicelli/Fellini/Visconti/de Sica, 1962, 208/150') - 12/7/2012