Written by: Michael Den Boer on May 11th, 2005
Theatrical Release Dates: 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
DVD Released: April 26th, 2005
Approximate Running Time: 204 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English, Dolby Digital Italian
DVD Release: No Shame
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $29.95
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 ‘Renzo and Luciana’
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.
Segment #2 ‘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.
Segment #3 ‘The Job’
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.
Segment #4 ‘The Raffle’
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.
No Shame presents Boccaccio ‘70 in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves its original 1.66:1 aspect ratio. This high definition transfer was sourced from the original vault interpositive and it is available for the first time ever on DVD in its original aspect ratio, uncut and with all four segments intact. Colors are robust and lively with natural looking flesh tones. Details are exceptional sharp with black levels that remain strong and constant through out. Grain is kept to a minimum and there are no problems with compression. Words can not describe how beautiful this forty plus year old film looks and No Shame has gone to great lengths to making sure this film looks the best its has since its initial release in 1962. This DVD transfer is interlaced.
This DVD comes with two audio options the films 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. Also of note the segment ‘The Job’ has portions of the English soundtrack that is only in Italian and there are some un-subtitled moments when Romy Schneider Pupe speaks in German. Both are presented in a Dolby Digital mono that is in surprisingly great shape considering the mono source and the age of this film. The Italian audio track has the better overall quality of the two tracks included. Dialog is easy to understand and both audio sources are virtually free of any hiss or distortion. While some film purists might mock the decision to include an English dubbed track I like the idea that more companies are offering more audio options of these foreign releases which can only expand this film to a wider market. English subtitles have been included that are easy to follow and understand.
Extras include the films original U.S. trailer, Original Italian trailer, archive footage and a collectable booklet that includes a reproduction of the original U.S. press book. The U.S. press book also includes an insightful liners notes written by Matthew Weisman. Rounding out the extras are several photo galleries including one gallery for each film, a gallery of posters and a gallery of pictures from the films premier. Each of these galleries play out more like a featurette’s as music from the segments from the film accompany the photos. Once again it would have been nice if interviews with the cast and crew had been included or at least an audio commentary with a film critic/historian. Boccaccio ’70 is an impressive collection of stories directed by some of Italy’s greatest director’s. Overall No Shame has put together an amazing release that is sure to please fans of the film and win over new fans.