Archive for the ‘Marcello Mastroianni’ Category

The Priest’s Wife

21 Oct

The Priest’s Wife — directed by Dino Risi. Dramedy. 103 Minutes Color 1971.

The Story: A frustrated female falls for a priest.


There is nothing really between them, except what we are told there is. That is the problem with the execution of the material, which has its own problems, as well.

What we have in casting Sophia Loren opposite Marcello Mastroianni here is that we cannot believe in his attraction to her resulting in love of her, because what she throws at him are her sumptuous charms rather than love itself. Magnificent Virgo that she is, Loren holds onto her reserves, but her charms she deploys with the utmost deliberation, as before her did Garbo and Bergman, those other two famous Virgo vamps. There is her wonderful walk, there is her confidence of herself as a woman, there is her sense of fun, her fine speaking voice, her goddess figure, her astounding face, vibrant hair, her immediacy, her talent. But she is essentially a cold actress. That is the challenge of her.

Mastroianni’s job is to register her volatility with his steadiness; his withdrawal in a dance with her control, but the love between them cannot register, and so the comedy and the drama never have any importance. He is also a cold actor.

Perhaps they were intimidated by the rashness of the script which takes on the Vatican itself and the regulation against priests’ marrying. It’s all right if they have mistresses, beget children, molest choirboys, but they must not tie the knot lest it distract them from their marriage to Jesus, who was certainly one for unconventional liaisons, nonetheless. These matters are met head on by the script as it proceeds. And a good thing too.

But really, Loren’s part is written as a crazy dame in miniskirts, aggressive in love from the start when she chases and runs down her faithless lover in her car. She soon chases and runs down Mastroianni, a confirmed prude and church careerist. Her behavior is actually nuts. She is run by desperate, ravenous frustration not by a need for love at all. And since Loren plays her all-out, there is nothing to correct this take on her character.

Loren is 37 and in full possession of her abilities and potential. Mastroianni is 47, but doesn’t look it one bit. The logical motion for this story would be that Loren becomes sane and Mastroianni become insane, and that they both feel love. But that’s not what happens. The director has not provided an inch of calm for either one of them. Mastroianni remains eager for nothing. Loren remains eager for everything in sight. And that’s that.



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Posted in DRAMEDY, Filmed in Italy, Marcello Mastroianni, Sophia Loren: SCREEN GODDESS



25 Aug

Intervista – Directed by Federico Fellini. Back Soundstage Movie Comedy. The comic story of shooting a film by Felinni about the first time Felinni came to a movie set when he was young. 102 minutes Color 1987.

* * * * *

Fellini is the Alexander Calder of film. Enchanting. Surprising. Fun. Here he gives us a film about how humans delight in what is made-up, artificial, fabricated. Not just but also in being those things. In being what is created, devised, imagined. In making themselves into those things. Not made up just by themselves but by someone else as well. Not just alone but as a group. And how they will endure folly, delay, uncertainty, rejection, and having their whole parade rained on in order that they have this privilege of concoction. Sacred and Exalted. Thrilling. Unifying. Hilarious. Natural. And forgiving.

And so we have one of the greatest and most unusual statements of human soul-reality ever made. And made how? Without ever coming out and saying so. It’s all done with a lot of people talking, shouting, carrying on, in the midst of every distraction and vituperation. And in all of this a story emerges which is coherent and which is told solely in film terms, in the rubric of film. Not just in narrative and entrancement but in felt content.

Emerging into this as though from the sky we have Marcello Mastroianni as a seedy magician. The crew all traipse in little cars to the villa of whom? She won’t let them in. She doesn’t believe it’s Felinni. When she does she sets her dogs on them. Anita Ekberg in orange towels. And this glorious Vercingetorix continues to appear in towels as though she had never quite dried off from that fountain all those years ago. Her reunion here takes my breath away, not because I am sentimental about the famous scene but because she and Mastroianni are 25 years older and look it and are beautiful and it’s just wonderful.

It’s a beautifully shaped picture. Like Singing In The Rain, it is a picture about pictures about pictures. Our happiness with fraud. Our envy of the freedom it confers. About the human energy it releases and the curious democracy which is its milieu and profound and delightful artifact.






La Notte

13 Aug

La Notte – Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni. Drama. A couple married for some years accompany one another in three places during one 12-hour period in Rome. 115 minutes Black and White. 1961.

* * * *

Movies that start with two people getting out of a car and walking up to a door make my heart sink. It means the director is desperately in want of imagination for the merest resources in establishing a locale. What if the movie had opened on the face of the dying hospital patient? What if one of them had be in the room already? Anything but a car stopping, parking, people getting out, going up to a door. And the film suffers from just such a want of imagination. The couple wander through the boredom of their marriage and their company with one another, rich, heedless, unfeeling. Marcello Mastroianni and Jean Moreau – two more watery, affectless actors could not have been cast in these roles. They are not “bad” actors, but they are actors devoid of temperament, and so are the characters they play, and I would have found it tiresome to accompany them, but that things unfold: from the hospital, they separate, and the wife wanders through the slums of her newly-wed days (although somehow she has got a lot of money), and he is drawn in to have sex with a certifiable nut. She seems to be a mere adjunct of her marriage, which is all the more apparent when they go together to a publication party for him, and then to the shindig of a billionaire, with a lot of folks drifting through the luxe. The billionaire wanted what he’s got, but he wanted it when he was twenty. He forgot he would be old by the time he got it. His 18 year-old daughter is played by Monica Viti, a wonderful actress, whose bones Mastroianni tries to jump, but you sense he doesn’t have the juice, nor does his wife for a bloke who drives off with her for a hot screw. The party scenes are marvelous, as is the depiction of the inert ennui at the heart of every marriage. And the film ends with a scene on the billionaire’s golf course, with Marcello lying on top of Jean and trying to make it with her, while she keeps saying to tell her that he no longer loves her. It’s a great scene; it must be a famous one.  But don’t tell me all the world is like this.  No, only that small slice of caviar pizza that Antonioni knows only, though sometimes he sure does know how to serve it well.






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