Tag Archives: vittorio de sica

Woman Times Seven (1967)

woman times seven 2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 7 out of 10

4-Word Review: Gotta love Shirley MacLaine.

Much like with Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow Vittorio De Sica directs a collage of stories all centering on a different female character and all played by the same actress this time being Shirley MacLaine who is fabulous. In fact she is so good that her famous male co-stars get badly upstaged and their presence almost becomes transparent.

The first story is entitled ‘Funeral Procession’ and deals with MacLaine playing the character of Paulette who is grieving over the recent death of her husband. As they are walking behind the hearse that is carrying her husband to his gravesite her friend Jean (Peter Sellers) uses this moment to proposition her for a weekend of sex and fun at an isolated getaway. The irony in this one is amusing and De Sica makes great use of nuance particularly the way everyone tries to avoid the messy puddles they come upon during the procession.

‘Amateur Night’ is the second segment and this one deals with Maria Theresa (MacLaine) coming home early from a vacation only to find her husband Giorgio (Rossano Brazzi) in bed with her best friend. She becomes so upset that she runs out of the house and into a group of prostitutes who lend a sympathetic ear as well as concocting some revenge. The interplay of the prostitutes is quite amusing and I loved watching all the different items that she throws at Giorgio during her rage, but the final payoff on this one could have been better.

MacLaine plays Linda in the third segment, which is entitled ‘Two Against One’. This is where she takes two competing suitors (Vittorio Gassman, Clinton Greyn) up to her apartment and reads them poems while she is completely naked. This segment is a bit forced and the attempts at satirizing the artsy-fartsy crowd is strained, but the creative ways De Sica cover-ups MacLaine’s otherwise naked body, so the viewer never sees anything explicit is amusing.

‘Super Simone’ makes up the fourth story and deals with Edith (MacLaine) becoming jealous because her writer husband Rik (Lex Barker) seems more infatuated with the female character in the book that he is writing than with her. Her wild attempts to get his attention backfires as he starts to think that she is going insane and even brings in a psychiatrist (Robert Morley) to take her away. The story here is slightly contrived, but MacLaine with a short bob haircut is adorable and the foot chase at the end along some apartment rooftops is visually engaging.

MacLaine gives an hilarious over-the-top performance in the fifth segment entitled ‘At the Opera’ dealing with a rich woman who becomes enraged when she finds out that another woman will be wearing the same dress that she will to an exclusive opera. The satirical jabs at the rich are on-target, but it loses steam at the end.

The weakest segment of them all that is barely even funny is the sixth one entitled ‘Suicides’. This is where a young couple (MacLaine, Alan Arkin) decide to commit suicide as a form of vague political protest, but then both chicken out at the end.

The seventh and final segment is entitled ‘Snow’ and deals with a married woman who becomes intrigued by a handsome stranger (Michael Caine) who follows her around the city streets, but who may not be who he seems. Most of the time movies like these have the final story be a strong one, but this one is strangely subdued making the film end with a whimper instead of the bang that it should. This segment is also novel because Caine barely even utters one word of dialogue and becomes completely wasted in the process.

Overall this is fun lightweight entertainment with a great chance to see MacLaine’s wide acting ability and different hairstyles and looks.

My Rating: 7 out of 10

Released:  June 27, 1967

Runtime: 1Hour 40Minutes

Not Rated

Director: Vittorio De Sica

Studio: Embassy Pictures

Available: DVD, Amazon Instant Video, Netflix Streaming

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (1963)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 8 out of 10

4-Word Review: Gotta love Sophia Loren.

This is a delightful comedy that won the Academy Award in 1964 for best foreign film. It consists of 3 vignettes all starring Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni and directed by the legendary Vittorio De Sica.

The first segment is entitled ‘Adelina’ and is a story about Adelina (Loren) who lives in poverty and sells cigarettes for a living. She is arrested for selling contraband products, but is released when it is found that she is expecting with the condition that six months after she delivers the baby she will be forced to serve her sentence. However, Adelina and her husband Carmine (Mastroianni) decide that the best way to avoid the sentence altogether is by keeping her continuously pregnant. Once she delivers one child she immediately gets pregnant with another, which creates overcrowding as well as an exhausted Carmine.

This segment is original and amusing throughout. Watching them trying to handle and maintain a household with such a large brood has its share of funny moments including one scene where Adelina tries to give one of her petulant children his medication. This setting vividly shows the poor side of Italian society, but unlike De Sica’s neo-realist films of the 40’s this one has a very engaging and even upbeat quality to it. The impoverished townsfolk become like a third character and their resiliency and support of one another proves to be a major plus to the story. Loren is fantastic in every scene she is in and makes this one special. Mastroianni is interesting playing against type as he is usually debonair and sophisticated, but here is simple and dominated.

The second story entitled ‘Anna’ deals with characters on the completely opposite end of the economic spectrum. Anna (Loren) is a spoiled rich woman who in an effort to alleviate her boredom with her husband who spends too much time working she has an affair with Renzo (Mastroianni). Renzo though fears that he is being used and that Anna has no intention of ever leaving her luxurious lifestyle to be with him.

All of the action takes place in a Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III convertible as the two characters discuss their relationship while driving through the streets of Rome. This story is not as lively as the first and the characters aren’t as likable. However, the part where Renzo has an accident with the car and Anna’s reaction to it is quite funny.

The third and final act is entitled ‘Mara’ and deals with a prostitute named Mara (Loren) who becomes interested in Umberto (Gianni Ridolfi) a young man living next door with his Grandmother (Tina Pica) and studying to become a priest. The grandmother does not approve of Mara’s ‘profession’ and openly shuns her causing a major discord between the two, but when Umberto decide to drop out of the seminary the two work together to try and bring him back to his senses.

This story, like the first, has many amusing moments. Loren shows impeccable comic ability. I loved how the character goes from sexy seductress to a woman pleading with Umberto to go back to seminary and escape this ‘wicked world’. The shift between having Mara and the grandmother hating each other to becoming friends is equally funny. Mastroianni doesn’t have as much to do here, but still makes the most of it playing one of Mara’s customers who is just looking for a little sex, but is reluctantly thrown into the middle of the controversy.

This segment became famous at the time for a striptease that Loren does for Mastroianni. However, by today’s standards it is not much and hardly even seemed worth mentioning. I actually thought the part where Loren walks outside wearing nothing more than a towel and provocatively singing a flirtatious song to the young Umberto, who has a face that looks like it had not reached puberty, was much steamier.

My Rating: 8 out of 10

Released: December 19, 1963

Runtime: 1Hour 58Minutes

Rated NR (Not Rated)

Director: Vittorio De Sica

Studio: Embassy Pictures

Available: DVD, Blu-ray, Netflix streaming, Amazon Instant Video