Written by: Michael Den Boer on July 20th, 2017
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1970
Director: Damiano Damiani
Writers: Damiano Damiani, Enrico Ribulsi, Sofia Scandurra
Cast: Ornella Muti, Alessio Orano, Tano Cimarosa, Pierluigi Aprà, Joe Sentieri, Enzo Andronico
BluRay released: August 16th, 2016
Approximate running times: 109 Minutes
Aspect Ratios: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English, DTS-HD Mono Italian
BluRay Release: Twilight Time
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $24.95
Synopsis: A young peasant girl Francesca (Ornella Muti) is kidnapped and raped by the Mafia Don’s nephew Vito who has become infatuated with her. Francesca has no other options but to report her violation to the police when everyone in town including her own family turn their back on her out of fear towards the mafia. The police are unable to pursue any charges without any other witnesses to back up Francesca version of what went down. When given an opportunity by one of Vito’s enemies to get her revenge will Francesca take the men up on her offer or will her conflicting feelings for Vito save him from an almost certain death?
The Most Beautiful Wife is a movie about power and one man’s struggle to obtain control over the one thing he can’t control. Early on in the film we are introduced to Vito the nephew of the Don and Vito is quickly thrown into a position of power when Don and the rest of the bosses are carted off to jail. The last words the Don tells him before leaving set up the main plot point that drives the rest of the film. He tells Vito “Marry a good woman with high moral values, if she is poor even better.” From that moment on Vito makes his main goal finding such a woman and one day he finds a fourteen year old peasant girl who fits the type of woman he is looking for to be his wife.
Francesca is played with youthful exuberance by actress Ornella Muti (Oasis of Fear) who had no prior acting experience before accepting this role. Looking back years later on the film the casting of Ornella Muti in the lead role of Francesca would appear to a no brainier since her beauty even at this early stage of her career was crippling and one look into her eyes would lead any man to his doom. Actor Alessio Orano does a wonderful job showing off the cruel side of Vito and he is equally impressive when showing that even someone as bold and vulgar as Vito has weaknesses. It is Vito’s pursuing of Francesca that really drives the whole story. Vito starts out as the stronger of the two and by the end of them film Francesca has clearly become the more dominate of the two.
Director Damiano Damiani has always been a director who chooses interesting and at times daring subject matter. The Most Beautiful Wife falls in line with his other great films like, How to Kill a Judge, A Bullet for the General, Confessions of a Police Captain and The Devil is a Woman. Franco Di Giacomo’s cinematography is picturesque as he perfectly frames faces and the action in such a way to gain the fullest impact. Ennio Morricone has supplied so many great score over the years one would be hard pressed to find a film he worked whose score was anything less then spectacular. Morricone’s score for The Most Beautiful Wife, especially the main theme motif is one of his most underrated works. Ultimately The Most Beautiful Wife despite its dark subject matter is a beautiful film to look at and absorb.
La moglie più bella (The Most Beautiful Wife) comes on a 50 GB dual layer (34.3 GB) BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. Colors and flesh tones look accurate, details generally look crisp and black levels remain strong throughout. Grain looks natural and there are no issues with compression.
This release comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD mono mix in English and a DTS-HD mono mix in Italian. Both audio mixes are in very good shape, dialog is always clear and everything sounds balanced. Range wise though both audio mixes are rather limited, the film’s score sound’s robust. Included with this release are removable English subtitles.
Extras for this release include, an option to view the Twilight Time catalog, an eight-page booklet with an essay about the film written by Julie Kirgo, an option to listen to an Isolated music track, a trailer for the film (3 minutes 37 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles), an introduction by director Damiano Damiani (1 minute, in Italian with English subtitles) and a documentary titled Sicily, Ornella, The Mafia and Beyond (45 minutes 42 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles).
The extra titled Sicily, Ornella, The Mafia and Beyond includes comments from Damiano Damiani, assistant director Mino Giarda, Editor Antonio Siciliano, actor Alessio Orano and director of photography Franco Di Giacomo. And topics discussed in this extra include, difficulties and the controversy that surround the project including how lead actress Ornella Muti whose real name is Francesca Rivelli got her stage name. The bulk of the conversation is spent with everyone talking about their various working experiences on the film and working with Ornella Muti.
Overall La moglie più bella (The Most Beautiful Wife) gets a solid release from Twilight Time.
Note: This Blu-Ray release is a limited-edition release of 3,000 copies.