Tales of Ordinary Madness is a 1981 film by Italian director Marco Ferreri. It was shot in English in the USA, featuring Ben Gazzara and Ornella Muti in the leading roles. The film’s title and subject matter are based on the works and the person of US poet Charles Bukowski.
The film follows the meandering (sexual) adventures of the poet and drunk, Charles Serking, laying bare the sleaze of life in the less reputable neighbourhoods of Los Angeles. Serking’s life takes a turn for the better when he meets Cass, a young hooker with self destructive habits. They have a stormy relationship. When Serking gets an offer from a major publishing house, Cass tries to stop him from leaving, but fails. Serking gives in to the temptation of the big bucks, but soon realises his mistake and returns to LA only to find that Cass has killed herself in his absence. Devastated he hits the bottle in a nightmarish drinking bout, but finally reaches catharsis and returns to the seaside guesthouse where he spent his happiest moments with Cass. Here he rekindles his poetry with the aid of a young admirer in one of Ferreri’s trademark beach scenes.
An agent for a liqueur company, he became involved in the cinema by making short advertising films; later he worked in the production sector and finally in the sale of cinema equipment, moving to Spain. There he met the young humorist Rafael Azcona, with whom he set up an extraordinary, lasting working relationship: the first fruits of their partnership were “El pisito” (1958), “Los chicos” (1959) and “The Little Coach (El cochecito)” (1960), the three “Spanish comedies” marked by a corrosive anti-bourgeois sarcasm. On returning to Italy, Ferreri continued his Spanish theme with “Queen Bee (L’ape regina)” (1963), an anti-Catholic satire in which the institution of matrimony is so fiercely under fire as to unleash the ire of the censor (requiring various cuts in the film and a slight change to the title). He fared no better with “The Ape Woman (La donna scimmia)” (1964), a bitter and lucid parable on the relationships between the sexes, dominated by the exploitation of the weaker sex… read more
Brilliant film about our ambivalence. In turn, hilarious and heartbreaking, and sometimes both.
I can understand why some people prefer "Barfly" to this film. While I enjoy that film too, there's something about this film that gets things about Bukowski that Barfy doesn't. Ferreri is a stronger visual director then Schroeder. I think a big reason I love this film more is that it's more like Bukowski's poetry and "Barfly" is more like his novels and I like his poetry more then his novels. Gazzara's great.