By Richard Winters
My Rating: 7 out of 10
4-Word Review: It’s all about sex.
This film, which is well over 3 hours, is a compilation of four different sex tales directed by legendary Italian greats: Federico Fellini, Vittorio De Sica, Luchino Visconti, and Mario Monichelli. The segments also star some of the most beautiful and sexiest women to ever grace the screen including: Sophia Loren, Anita Ekberg, and Romy Schneider. These ladies are at their most stunning and really light up the screen with their presence. Despite the extreme length the film moves along in a breezy fashion and I was actually surprised how quickly the time went.
The first segment directed by Monichelli and entitled ‘Renzo e Luciana’ was cut from the initial American theatrical release and it is easy to see why as it lacks the energy and flair of the others. It stars Marisa Solinas who doesn’t have the sex appeal and star power of the other leading ladies and apparently this was the reason why it was cut, but now has been restored on the recent Blu-ray release. The story is rather simple and deals with Luciana (Solinas) getting married to Renzo (Germano Gilioli), but having to move-in with her parents as they are unable to afford a home of their own. She also must keep her marriage a secret because the contract that she signed at the accounting firm that she works at strictly states that the female employees must remain single. This is so their overweight, lecherous boss can flirt and go out with them and threaten to fire them if they resist. Because of her financial situation and sparse job market Luciana is forced to put up with his advances. Although seeing two young newlyweds struggling as they start out can at times be touching this segment doesn’t have enough comedy, or drama to keep it afloat. The only lasting image one remembers from this is when Luciana goes to a public pool and sees her fat boss prancing around in nothing but a skimpy bikini bottom, which might be enough to make some viewers sick.
‘Le tentazioni del dottor Antonia’ is the second segment and directed by Fellini with his usual visual flair and style. The plot is about an older gentleman named Antonio (Peppino De Filipo) who is quite prudish and protests and tries to ban any type of public display of sexuality. When a giant billboard is erected in front of his apartment showing an alluring model (Ekberg) in a provocative pose while holding a glass of milk he becomes irate. His initial anger turns to horror as the giant model comes to life and begins to terrorize him in all sorts of comical ways. The special effects are pretty good. Filipo plays his role to a delightfully hammy level and Ekberg is striking. The ironic ending, which features a lot of surreal elements, is amusing.
The third feature is entitled ‘II lavaro’ and is directed by Visconti. Here a rich young husband (Thomas Milian) can’t seem to avoid being caught cavorting with prostitutes despite the fact that he is married to the beautiful Pupe (Schneider). She decides that the only way to prevent this is by becoming a prostitute herself and then having him pay her to be his mistress. This segment starts out with a humorous and engaging tone, but eventually becomes talky, static, and stagy. Schneider is the best thing about it and is intoxicating in every scene that she is in. She not only speaks fluent Italian here, but German as well.
The final segment entitled ‘La riffa’ and directed by De Sica is by far the best. It is about a raffle that all the men in a small village get involved in to see who will win one night with the beautiful Zoe (Loren). The irony here is when timid Cuspet (Alfio Vita) who looks and acts exactly like Rowan Atckinson’s Mr. Bean character, ends up winning it. De Sica nicely plays everything up to its full potential and captures the nuances and eccentricities of the characters well. Loren is both sexy and funny and shows a flair for frantic comedy. The sequence involving Cuspet and Zoe’s rendezvous is amusing, touching, and even a bit surprising.
My Rating: 7 out of 10
Released: June 26, 1962
Runtime: 3Hours 25Minutes
Rated NR (Not Rated)
Directed by: Federico Fellini, Vittorio De Sica, Mario Monichelli, Luchino Visconti.
Available: VHS, DVD (Region 1 and 2), Blu-ray, Netflix Streaming