Tuesday, September 13, 2011

5. The Episode Films part six


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

Franciolini followed VILLA BORGHESE with RACCONTI ROMANI (ROMAN TALES) in 1956. Franciolini, who died prematurely at the age of 50, was a cultivated and well-prepared director, but an improviser. Between VILLA BORGHESE and RACCONTI ROMANI the progress is evident. The director was interested in contriving a narrative structure that combined the fragmentariness of the episode film with an underlying unity. From the book of the same name by Alberto Moravia, which contained sixty-one stories, Franciolini, with Sergio Amidei, chose only eight and instructed the script-writers to knit them together in such a way as to form a single story divided into eight episodes. Which resulted in a vigorous return to the world of those young people from the working-class suburbs that had kindled the imagination of Castellani in SOTTO IL SOLE DI ROMA (UNDER THE SUN OF ROME). The males are all good-looking and loafers: Alvaro, the leader of the gang (Antonio Cifariello), Otello, fishmonger, Mario, waiter, Spartaco "er bassetto" ("Shortie"), barber's apprentice. All of them try to make money with a series of bright ideas, regularly doomed to failure, even to the point of planning the "big job," the swindle that will set them up for life. Their girl friends, instead, are hard workers, with their heads on their shoulders, and end up convincing the boys to change their ways. The motifs are the same as to be found in POVERI MA BELLI (POOR BUT GOOD-LOOKING) and similar films, but they are explored more thoroughly by the script which seeks to say something about that generation of Romans (aside from Moravia, the scirpt was signed by Amidei, Age, Scarpelli and the future director Francesco Rosi). The result was a spirited, rowdy and jaunty film where Totò also had the chance to be seen as a certain "Professor" Semprini, a consultant (in jail) in the art of swindling. Franciolini's last experiment in this direction, RACCONTI D'ESTATE (SUMMER TALES: 1958), was more commonplace. Based on an idea by Alberto Moravia, it revolved about a world already highly exploited in films: the world of bathers and life on the beach.

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