Written by: Michael Den Boer on July 14th, 2017
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, February 22nd, 1962
Directors: Vittorio De Sica, Federico Fellini, Mario Monicelli, Luchino Visconti
Writers: Giovanni Arpino, Italo Calvino, Suso Cecchi d’Amico, Federico Fellini, Ennio Flaiano, Mario Monicelli, Goffredo Parise, Tullio Pinelli, Brunello Rondi, Luchino Visconti, Cesare Zavattini
Cast: Marisa Solinas, Germano Gilioli, Anita Ekberg, Peppino De Filippo, Romy Schneider, Tomas Milian, Romolo Valli, Sophia Loren, Luigi Giuliani,Alfio Vita
BluRay released: June 26th, 2017
Approximate running times: 204 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 12 (UK)
Sound: LPCM Mono Italian, LPCM Mono Englsih
BluRay Release: Cult Films
Region Coding: Region B (UK)
Retail Price: £19.99 (UK)
Boccaccio ’70 is the brain child of Italian producer Carlo Ponti (Sophia Loren’s husband) and independent U.S. producer Joseph E. Levine who released many Italian sword and sandal films including Hercules in America. The four stories contained in Boccaccio ’70 are loosely based (inspired by) a book written by Giovanni Boccaccio the author of The Decameron.
Segment #1 ‘The Temptation of Doctor Antonio’
Doctor Antonio (Peppino De Filippo) is only interested in the purists’ things in life and he will stop at nothing to eradicate the world of perverse temptations that corrupt mankind. While attending a Boy Scouts award ceremony which is interrupted when a construction crew puts up a bill board of a voluptuous Anita Ekberg across the street from were he lives. Doctor Antonio thus starts his crusade against this indecent bill board as he tries to persuade the public and the local government to take it down. After some persuasion the billboard is finally covered up but the problem doesn’t end for Doctor Antonio. The woman on the bill board isn’t willing to give up with out a fight as she tauntingly calls to Doctor Antonio before ultimately coming to life.
The opening moments of The Temptation of Doctor Antonio are undeniable Fellini as he shows Rome in all of her beauty and he fills the background with some of the most interesting faces. Anita Ekberg is charming as she essentially playing the same character she played in La Dolce Vita. The real star of the show is Peppino De Filippo who brilliant performance as Doctor Antonio steals every scene he is in. He never fully goes over the top in his performance event though at times he is teetering on the end of insanity.
Nino Rota’s exuberant score perfectly compliments Fellini’s imagery. This film is filled with many images and themes that Fellini would go on to explore in his later films like the making unbelievable believable. The Temptation of Doctor Antonio was the first time Fellini used color in a film. His vividly captures tones and textures that heighten films dream like tapestries. The Temptation of Doctor Antonio is a playful farce that has all the trademarks we have come to expect from the cinema of Federico Fellini.
Conte Ottavio (Tomas Milian) returns from his trip filled debauchery only to find out that all the tabloids have caught him red handed. Upon his arrival all of lawyers are waiting for him so that they can form a plan to combat this bad publicity. His wife Pupe (Romy Schneider) has been missing since yesterday afternoon when she left he house for her appointment at the hairdresser. Ottavio and his lawyers search frantically for his lost wife and just as they are about to call the police one of the servants announces that she is resting in her room. Will Ottavio be able to save his marriage or has he lost her forever?
Luchino Visconti early on establishes his reality through his lush set and his eye for details. Like many of his other films The Job is filled with decadent behavior that ultimately leads to ones downfall. Romy Schneider and Tomas Milian are wonderful together as the decaying couple as they perfectly capture the essence of their characters. The main theme that runs through out the film is a marriage without love and more for convenience. Ottavio’s infidelity would have been the breaking point in the marriage if his wife cared more about his mistreatment. She is more concerned with getting job and gaining independence that neither her father nor Ottavio could ever give her. Nina Rota sexy score adds to Pupe’s melancholy state of mind which ultimately makes her the most vulnerable character in the film. Overall The Job is fascinating look into relationships bent on self destruction.
Zoe (Sophia Loren) is a voluptuous woman who works at a shooting gallery at the local carnival. Her sister Vilma is pregnant and she might lose her shooting gallery booth if she doesn’t pay the government the back taxes she owes. The two sisters with the of Vilma’s husband concoct a plan to run a raffle were the winner gets to spend one night with Zoe. The horny townsmen buy tickets in a record speed at a chance to keep a piece of the lovely Zoe. While working at the shooting gallery one day Zoe meets a young man who she falls for which could lead to her not fulfilling her end of the raffle.
The Raffle is a star vehicle for Sophia Loren that exploits to their fullest her ample assets. Vittorio De Sica who has worked with Loren many times gets another wonderful performance out of her. His direction is low key and at times subdued when compared to the other director’s work contained in Boccaccio ’70. The main focus is this segment is Zoe’s choice of helping her sister or following her feelings for the young man she has fallen for. This segment also offers the most comic relief of the four with most of the laughs coming at the expense of the townsmen as they buy tickets for the raffle and then try to bribe the winning ticket holder. Overall The Raffle is a light hearted piece about sacrifice and finding true love.
Renzo (Germano Gilioli) and Luciana (Marisa Solinas) are two young lovers who work at a factory together. They are madly in love with each other and want to get married. There is one problem that is their way Luciana’s job as a secretary prevents her from getting married or she will be fired. So the two one day after leaving work decide to secretly get married. Luciana’s lecherous boss is constantly making unwanted advances towards her which only makes Renzo jealous putting a strain on their marriage. How far will Renzo and Luciana go to hide their marriage and will it in the end destroy their love for each other?
The main focus of this segment is the ups and downs of marriage. The actor who plays Luciana’s boss is delightfully sleazy especially during a scene at a swimming pool where he proudly parades round in a Speedo. The dynamics of their relationship are also tested outside of work because they are forced to live with Luciana’s parents and siblings leading to yet another place were they can’t find time to be alone. Mario Monicelli’s direction is solid and the films pacing is perfectly arched giving all the characters room to grow. Overall the two leads give nicely balanced performances that are offset by some of the supporting casts more flamboyant performances.
Boccaccio ’70 comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. The source used is in very good shape. There are no problems with compression, colors look vibrant, flesh tones look accurate, details are crisp, black and contrast levels remain strong throughout. When compared to previous home video releases, this releases transfer is easily the best this film has looked to date on home video.
This release comes with two audio options this film’s original Italian language track and an English dubbed track for all the segments except ‘Renzo and Luciana’ which only comes with an Italian language track. And portions of the segment ‘The Job’ that is only in Italian. Both audio mixes are in great shape. There are no issues with distortion or background noise, dialog is always clear and balanced. The more ambient aspects of the soundtracks are well represented and the score sounds appropriately robust. Both audio options are presented in a LPCM mono and included with this release are removable English subtitles. It should be noted that there are English subtitles for the aforementioned segment that is only available in Italian.
Topics discussed in the extra titled Sophia Loren: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow include, The Gold of Naples, Two Women, Boccaccio ’70, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, Marriage Italian Style, Cinderella: Italian Style, A Special Day, Vittorio De Sica, Carlo Ponti and Marcello Mastroianni. Besides comments from Sophia Loren and other who discuss her legacy. This extra also features several vintage news reel footage of Sophia Loren.
Overall Cult Films gives Boccaccio ’70 its best home video release to date, highly recommended.
Note: Cult Films are also releasing this film on DVD.