Italian culture experiences a period of transition across the four short narratives that comprise Boccaccio’70. Renzo and Luciana (directed by Mario Monicelli) chronicles the plight of a loving couple who work in the same factory but have to hide their marriage because of work regulations forbidding interaction amongst factory employees. Its dramatic sincerity contrasts starkly with the extravagance of The Temptation of Doctor Antonio. Federico Fellini’s first work in colour paints a phantasmagoric picture of the impact of mass-media consumerism on traditional values. This conflict is played out by the censorious Dr. Antonio (Peppino de Filippo) and his mighty opponent: a giant Anita Ekberg (La Dolce Vita) who teases her observers while stretched across a wide billboard.
Luchino Visconti’s The Job features Romy Schneider (Les Choses de la Vie) as an aristocratic housewife. Humiliated by a lurid sex scandal involving her husband (Tomás Milián), she threatens to renounce her life of privilege by taking up a job and start working for a living. Vittorio De Sica’s The Raffle is a comedy set in the working class world of carnival workers. Zoe, played by Sophia Loren (who had won an Oscar for De Sica’s Two Women), is driven by familial obligations and love for a bullfighter to literally offer herself as a prize to be won at a raffle.
Seen together, these four miniatures offer a unique portrait of Italy during its economic miracle. This undertaking by iconic producer Carlo Ponti (La Strada, Lola) is more than an unprecedented gathering of singular talents; it’s one of the greatest depictions of the diversity of Italian society. —Mr Bongo
Few European film-makers combined artistic ambitions with a genuine populist spirit in the manner of Vittorio De Sica. In his prolific career, the actor-director made many films on social subjects which nonetheless engaged a mass audience. A Neapolitan by birth, De Sica came from humble roots, working as a theatre actor in the early 1920s. His stage success led De Sica to films where he proved to be a popular actor, mounting more than thirty film credits before his directorial debut with Rosa Scarlatte (which he co-directed with Giuseppe Amato). Even after his success as a director, De Sica was a much sought after performer; appearing in such classics as Max Ophüls’ Madame de… and Roberto Rossellini’s Il Generale della Rovere.
De Sica’s fourth outing as a director was his first collaboration with screenwriter and film theorist Cesare Zavattini. The Children Are Watching Us anticipated neorealism in its detached focus on a young boy’s growing isolation from his mother. De Sica’s… read more
As Martin Scorsese notes in My Voyage to Italy, no 20th Century film-maker can lay claim to the unique disposition of Count Don Luchino Visconti di Modrone, the final heir to one of Europe’s oldest aristocratic families. For much of his youth, Visconti exulted in the privileges of his lifestyle. His house was a frequent retreat for the likes of Arturo Toscanini, Gabrielle d’Annunzio and Giacomo Puccini. His lifelong engagement in theatre and opera was imbibed from an early age along with brief passions such as raising horses and maintaining stables. It wasn’t long before Visconti began questioning the limitations of his lifestyle. Inspired by his intellectual yearnings, Visconti wandered away from his comfortable shelter and visited Paris. This would be a turning point in his life. Through his friendship with Coco Chanel, Visconti met French director Jean Renoir. He served as assistant director on some of Renoir’s best films from the 30s, including Toni, Partie de campagne and The Lower… read more
Federico Fellini was born in 1920 to a provincial middle-class family in Rimini, a small town on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. The lack of available options to young men in provincial towns is an important theme in some of his films, most notably I Vitelloni and Amarcord. In fact, Orson Welles once described Fellini as “a small-town boy who’s never really come to Rome. He’s still dreaming about it. And we should all be grateful for those dreams.” He initially arrived in Rome as a law student but his career as a satirical cartoonist and gag writer was already well established by then. His childhood fascination with the circus and the Grand Guignol also governed his cinephilia in these early years. His favourite films were American comedies by Chaplin, Keaton, Harry Langdon and the Marx Brothers. It was only after he came into contact with the circle of Ettore Scola, Cesare Zavattini, Aldo Fabrizi and Roberto Rossellini, that he would seriously consider the cinema as a medium of expression… read more
Although associated with the 1950s period of commedia all’italiana, Mario Monicelli’s career hearkened back to Italy’s silent era; being in fact a predecessor to Italian neorealism rather than succeeding it. Born in Tuscany in 1915, Monicelli gravitated to cinema early in his life, entering the film business in the early-30s. His first films were co-directed with Alberto Mondadori, most notably a silent film adaptation of Ferenc Molnar’s The Paul Street Boys which won an award at the Venice Film Festival. Monicelli alternated as an assistant director and writer for other film-makers along with his own projects. His first solo feature was Summer Rain, made in 1937. He first achieved renown for a series of films starring Italy’s famous comic Totò. Initially co-directed with Stefano ‘Steno’ Vanzina, Monicelli went solo with Totò e Carolina.
His first major film also marked his first collaboration with the screenwriting duo, Age & Scarpelli. I soliti ignoti (1958), better known… read more
A sultry classic anthology from Italy's filmmakers De Sica, Visconti, Fellini and Monicelli. Each of these four films showcase different styles of love, Italian style in the early 1960's. While each of these films were enjoyable, my favorite would have to be Visconti's "Il Lavoro". Romi Schneider's performance was delightful! I applaud Kino Lorber for including Monicelli's "Renzo e Luciana" in the Blu-ray release.
Title: Boccaccio ’70
Country: Italy, France
Language: Italian, German
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Romance
Luchino… read review
Uneven collection of shorts from four of Italy’s most legendary filmmakers. Mario Monicelli’s “Renzo and Lucianna” boasts some superb cinematography, though the story is slight. Fellini’s “The Temptation… read review