Wednesday, September 21, 2011

5. The Episode Films part nine


by Ernesto G. Laura - Compiled by A.N.I.C.A. (National Association of Motion Pictures and Affiliated Industries) Rome, Italy - Edited by CIES Soc. Coop. r.1 (Institute for the Promotion of Italian Motion Pictures Abroad) Rome, Italy under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment

SIAMO DONNE (WE'RE WOMEN), made in 1953, represented the second experiment suggested by Zavattini. The idea was to bring to the screen the private, lesser known dimension of four famous movie stars, revealing their hidden natures. It began as a sort of "cinema-verite" on the screen tests of unknown actresses to find new faces for the movies and then wound up getting personal confessions out of Ingrid Bergman, Isa Miranda, Alida Valli and Anna Magnani. Here too the results were far different from the premises: the four episodes ended up as distinct, well-constructed stories, which had nothing of the spontaneous and indiscreet confessions of the original plan. Particularly worthy of note, with its pungent satire of wartime Rome, the episode in which Anna Magnani gets into a quarrel with a cab-driver that keeps getting more and more people involved. The director was Luchino Visconti.

In 1959, Fellini's LA DOLCE VITA (THE SWEET LIFE) was essentially an episode film with an evident inner unity. A couple of years later, the director answered the attacks launched by certain moralists against his film with the episode, Le tentazioni del dottor Antonio (The Temptations of Dr. Antonio), included in BOCCACCIO '70. Peppino De Filippo was the stern defender of morals who unleashes a campaign against an immense billboard advertisement showing a sexy Anita Ekberg in the same low-cut evening dress she wore in the famous Fontana di Trevi sequence of LA DOLCE VITA. At night, however, Anita comes down from the billboard, becomes flesh and blood and pursues her accuser who ends up in an insane asylum. Aside from the above-mentioned La riffa (The Raffle) by De Sica, the rest of the film consisted of Renzo e Luciana (Renzo and Luciana) by Mario Monicelli, written by Suso Cecchi D'Amico, the director and two first-rate writers like Giovanni Arpino and Italo Calvino, which criticized with apparent charm, but underlying harshness, the <> of industrial society which prevents a couple of newly-weds from living the intimacy of their marriage in peace, and Il lavoro (The Job), by Visconti, a rather "nasty" comedy of manners about a wife who, to get even with her husband who has been unfaithful to her with a prostitute, puts a fee on her own "services".

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