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Monika (La Ragazzina) 
Written by: on June 27th, 2009

Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1974
Director: Mario Imperoli
Writer: Mario Imperoli, Arpad DeRiso, Nino Scolaro
Cast: Gloria Guida, Colette Descombes, Andrés Resino, Gianluigi Chirizzi, Paolo Carlini

DVD released: July 28th, 2009
Approximate running time: 83 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: NR
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Italian
Subtitles: English
DVD Release: Mya Communication
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.95

Synopsis: All of the boys at her school and men in her life lust after Monika who doesn’t want to give up her virginity until she meets the right suitor.

Monika was co-written and directed by Mario Imperoli (Blue Jeans). The screenplay for Monika was co-written by Arpad DeRiso who other notable screenplays include Hercules Against the Moon Men, Death Carries a Cane and Death Steps in the Dark. The score for Monika was composed by Nico Fidenco and it is reminiscent of the scores that he composed for the Black Emaneulle films that starred Laura Gemser. The Italian language title for Monika is “La Ragazzina”, which roughly translates into “The Child”.

The plot revolves around a young woman named Monika who is still a virgin as she approaches her sixteenth birthday. Her grab happy boyfriend Leo time and again tries to pressure her into sleeping with him. Monika doesn’t want to give up her virginity to just anyone and she is willing to wait until she finds someone who connects with her on a more emotional level. Along the way the plot introduces two more suitors for Monika, her art teacher and one of her fathers’ business partners. It is with the art teacher that she finds the strongest connection, while her fathers’ business partner obsession far outgrows her residual interest in him.

The plot is clearly molded to exploit its star Gloria Guida’s in her first starring role and her more than abundant sex appeal. Even though Edwige Fenech is the most prominent sex symbol too emerge out of Italian cinema in the 1970’s. Gloria Guida in many ways is on par with her popularity wise, at least in Italy. Some of Gloria Guida’s more notable films include, So Young, So Lovely, So Vicious…, The Teasers, To Be Twenty and Blue Jeans (in which she would re-team with director Mario Imperoli).

Director Mario Imperoli doesn’t waste a single chance to showcase his star Gloria Guida. Whether he has her running in slow motion on the beach or posing nude in front of the mirror where the camera like the men in the film fixates on Monika’s very move. Besides Gloria Guida’s superb performance as the naive Monika, other performances of note include Gianluigi Chirizzi (Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror) in the role of Monika’s boyfriend Leo as sleazy character who also has a side job as a pimp and Paolo Carlini in the role of Massimo Moroni, one of her fathers’ business partners. Ultimately Monika works as well as it does because of the strong presence of its star Gloria Guida.

The DVD:

Monika is presented in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. This transfer has been flagged for progressive playback. Colors and flesh tones fare well throughout. There is some mild grain and print damage (in the form of nicks / debris) that is present throughout. Details generally look crisp and black levels are strong throughout. Monika was released on DVD in Germany under the title “La ragazzina”, by a company named Simple Movie. This German DVD is interlaced and the image looks softer than it does for this new release from Mya Communication. The German DVD clocked in at 79 minutes 25 seconds and Mya Communication’s DVD clocks in at 82 minutes 46 seconds. Even though the transfer for the Mya Communication DVD fares better, than the transfer from the German DVD from Simple Movie, the title card for both transfers is the same which leads me to believe that were most likely made from the same source.

This release comes with one audio option a Dolby Digital mono mix in Italian and removable English subtitles have been included. The subtitles have a few grammatical errors and there are a few instances where they appear to be mistimed. The audio mix is in very good shape as dialog is clear, everything sounds balanced and there are no problems with distortion or background is minimal.

Extras for this release are limited to a photo gallery with 37 images (stills / posters / home video box art). Overall Monika gets its North American DVD debut via a well rounded DVD release from Mya Communication.

Note: There is a longer cut of this film that was released in theaters and home video in Italy that clocks in at about 93 minutes.

Special thanks: To Bob Bettendorf for the information about the Italy release of this film.

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