Wednesday, February 1, 2012

13. The "Second Wave" of Comedy Actors part ten

by Ernesto G. Laura
Other actors, some of them international stars, have not been taken into detailed consideration here because their comedy appearances fall into a larger and more complex framework of motion picture activities. Such is the case with Marcello Mastroianni and Monica Vitti. Both have important dramatic interpretations to their credit: suffice it to remember Michelangelo Antonioni's LA NOTTE (NIGHT), in which they appeared together. As to Mastroianni, mention must be made of the Fellini films, from LA DOLCE VITA (THE SWEET LIFE) to LA CITTA DELLA DONNE (CITY OF WOMEN), as to Vitti those of Antonioni, from L'AVVENTURA (THE ADVENTURE) to IL MISTERIO DI OBERWALD (THE MYSTERY OF OBERWALD). Even so, the former's natural inclination to irony, the latter's to caricature, often made it possible to introduce moments of genuine humor into dramatic films.
In the 1950s, Marcello Mastroianni was often one of the young leads in the humorous-sentimental comedies that were in fashion. He then reappears in Ferreri's LA GRANDE ABBUFFATA (THE BIG FEED) and in many more recent comedies (among other things, he starred in the musical comedy, VALENTINO, where in the role of the famous silent film star he danced and sang).
Monica Vitti, instead, appeared more regularly in the film comedy genre. Indeed, several films were made especially to show off her particular whimsical personality. For example, the movie versions of several successful stage works: TI HO SPOSATO PER ALLEGRIA (I MARRIED YOU OUT OF MIRTH: 1967) by Luciano Salce, on the play by Natalia Ginzburg, with Giorgio Albertazzi and Maria Grazia Buccella, L'ANATRA ALL'ARANCIA (DUCK A L'ORANGE: 1975), it too by Salce, from the play by Home and Sauvajon, adapted to the screen by Bernardino Zapponi, with Ugo Tognazzi, John Richardson and Barbara Bouchet, AMORI MIEI (MY DARLINGS: 1978) by Steno, from the play by Jaja Fiastri, with Dorelli and Enrico Maria Salerno, NON TI CONOSCO PIU AMORE (DON'T KNOW YOU ANYMORE, DARLING: 1980) by Corbucci, from an old play by Aldo De Benedetti which had already been made into a film in 1936 at the time of the "white telephone" comedies. The film which revealed most completely the gifts of Monica Vitti, a modern actress who even so identifies herself with the character emotionally, from within, was LA RAGAZZA CON LA PISTOLA (THE GIRL WITH THE PISTOL), directed in 1968 by Mario Monicelli from a story by Sonego adapted to the screen by Sonego and Magni. She is a farm girl from a small Southern town with a very closed mentality, who is "dishonored" by a local boy and goes looking for him in America to kill him and "wash away the disgrace," imagining at every stage of the journey the different ways the execution will take place. Vitti is extraordinary in depicting the various stages in the evolution of the girl, who, as the journey proceeds and she gains new experience, gradually begins to feel less and less disposed to carry out the ritual murder, more a woman, more modern, more mature.

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