A summit meeting of great Italian directors of the era, Boccaccio '70 is an antipasto platter of vintage sex symbols and naughty material. Cooked up and bankrolled by Carlo Ponti and American producer Joseph E. Levine, the four-part film was meant to tap the international smash of Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita, which gave audiences some refreshingly, you know, "mature" subject matter. Four directors were hired to create segments ostensibly based on the tales of Boccaccio: Fellini himself (in the lull between La Dolce Vita and 8-1/2), Luchino Visconti, Vittorio De Sica, and Mario Monicelli.
Monicelli's story, Renzo and Luciana, is an agreeable tale, full of everyday Roman life: an office worker (Marisa Solinas) must marry her boyfriend when she gets pregnant--although marriage is against company rules. Fellini's segment, The Temptation of Dr. Antonio, is fantastical and big-scaled. It tells of a censorious bluenose (Peppino de Filippo) who becomes incensed at the presence of a billboard featuring a sexy portrait of Anita Ekberg (selling milk)--a portrait that comes to life. For this bizarre escapade, Nino Rota composed an advertising jingle that will stick in your mind whether you want it to or not.
Visconti's The Job is the best segment, tracking the emotional chess game between a playboy (Thomas Milian) and his wife (Romy Schneider at her most gorgeous) after he is publicly exposed in a sex scandal. Finally, the De Sica piece (The Raffle) is a fairly broad romp that uses Sophia Loren as the reward in a raffle. Sophia's delicious, needless to say.
The finished product weighed in at a whopping 208 minutes, and Monicelli's segment was lopped off before the film showed at the Cannes Film Festival. It has never been restored, until this DVD release. All the segments are frankly too long, and none qualifies as an essential gem, but they do give the flavor of Italy's best at an especially exciting cinematic moment. --Robert Horton
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In 1962, the anthology film "Boccaccio '70' was released. Featuring an idea by Italian screenwriter Cesare Zavattini (one of the proponents of the Neorealist movement in Italian cinema), the film would focus on the style of Boccaccio, the work of 1300's Italian author and poet Giovanni Boccaccio.
In Italy, the film would feature four stories directed by Mario Monicelli ("Casanova 70', "The Organizer", "Caro Michele", "A Tailor's Maid"), Federico Fellini ("8 1/2', "La Dolce Vita", "Juliet of the Spirits", "I Vitelloni"), Luchino Visconti ("Rocco and His Brothers", "The Leopard", "Death in Venice", "La Terra Trema") and Vittorio De Sica ("Bicycle Thieves", "Umberto D.", "Marriage Italian Style").
While the Italian version featured all four stories, producer Carlos Ponti decided to make it a trilogy due to its 3 hour+ duration and decided to cut out Mario Monicelli's story for its worldwide release. So, for its Cannes Film Festival premiere, in support of Monicelli, the other three directors did not go to Cannes premiere.
So, while the world is familiar with the trilogy of films in "Boccaccio '70', for the Blu-ray release of this Italian anthology classic, all four films are presented.
"Boccaccio '70' is a film that probably will not look any better than what we see on this Blu-ray. While not a pristine print, the film does look its age but where it probably looks better than any of its previous counterparts is how well the film does look during the daylight. The story of "Le tentazioni del dottor Antonio" looks absolutely beautiful as Fellini shows us the vibrant colors of the area, "La Riffa" showcases the vibrant red of Sophia Loren.
There is a good amount of grain that we can see from the overall film, nothing to overly drastic. If anything, the overall look of the film is very good. I noticed even more detail especially the makeup in "Il Lavoro" as Romy Schneider looks absolutely stunning in the film. I did notice some artifacts but nothing that diminishes your viewing of the overall film.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
The audio for "Boccaccio '70' is presented in Italian monaural 1.0. I have seen this film before where the audio sounds so loud and crackly, but good news for fans of "Boccaccio '70' is that the audio is very good and dialogue is clear. Especially during the musical moments of the film, especially the "milk song" played throughout "Le tentazioni del dottor Antonio" and of course Sophia Loren's singing vocal segments of "La riffa".
But I chose to have my receiver set on stereo on all channels to have a more immersive soundtrack. But while testing it on monaural, dialogue and music were quite clear, no sign of hiss, crackle or popping throughout the film.
"Boccacio '70' comes with the following special features:
Boccaccio '70 Theatrical Trailer - The US or worldwide trailer minus "Renzo e Luciana".
Stills - Featuring stills for all four shorts from the anthology.
"Boccaccio '70' comes with a slipcase cover.
Sexy and entertaining! "Boccaccio '70' is an entertaining anthology featuring the work of four renown Italian filmmakers and also featuring an all-star cast.
But most importantly, with the Blu-ray release of "Boccaccio '70', viewers will finally get to see what was shown in Italy, not a trilogy but all four stories.
With Mario Monicelli's "Renzo e Luciana", what I enjoyed about this film is how it showcases the busy metropolitan city in Italy. But also a scene from yesteryear, especially the busy public pools. To see the number of people at the pools during the hot summer, people of all ages, was quite interesting but also to see how possibly some business were back in the day of not allowing their female workers to keep a job if they are married or have children.
May it be fears of missing an employee and slowing production or that is the style of Luciana's Draconian boss, but it was quite interesting to see the story of a young couple in love and the challenges they had to make sure they had the income to make their marriage work and plan for their family home.
But Monicelli's story does showcase innocent love or unconditional love.
The second story "Le Tentazioni del Dottor Antonio" is interesting in the fact that we have a story of a conservative who does all he can to stop indecency. And of course, where we have seen conservative politicians to TV evangelists succumb to their own sins, the same can be said about Dr. Antonio. Not so much with a real woman but the fact that he finds himself falling in love with the buxom Swedish blond model, Anita Ekberg on his billboard across the street from his apartment.
While the film is a much slower pace compared to the other three films, what makes "Le Tentazioni del Dottor Antonio" an entertaining comedy is its characters and the "milk song" which is played throughout the film. The film is also quite vibrant with its various characters, many who support the milk billboard with Anita Ekberg but there is no doubt, in 1962, Ekberg's appearance and showcasing her body was a big draw for viewers at the time.
As for love, this love I suppose can be classified as "blind love".
The third story "Il lavoro" is possibly my favorite story and the saddest of the three. Romy Schneider absolutely shines in this film and without spoiling the film, the story of how two people became a couple for the sake of their parents in building an empire, call it a business transaction. But for Pupe (Schneider), while the men are about the money, for her, it's about love and wondering why her husband must gallivant towards prostitutes while he is married. So, when she gives up her wealth to take a job, it's the job that becomes the most surprising, and the only way she is able to make her husband be with her, even if its not true, romantic love.
What kind of love would I call this film? I would have to call it, "demeaning love".
The final and fourth story is possibly the most exciting of the four. A film that shows us how wonderful the collaboration between Vittoria De Sica and actress Sophia Loren. "La riffa" starring the vibrant Loren as carnival worker Zoe. A hardworking woman who depends on no man, but is willing to be there for her pregnant friend and help them financially by using her body to entice people to purchase lottery tickets for possibly one night of romance with her. And of course, nearly every man wants one night with Zoe.
Of course, during the process, she does meet a young man that she cares about. But when he finds out about the lottery, he is saddened. What happens when one man, a shy timid Christian man wins the lottery?
If you love Sophia Loren and you loved her in films such as "Marriage Italian Style" or "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow", she is absolutely sexy in this film. And she doesn't play the naive character, she's a pretty strong-willed character that calls the shots and is quite aware of her sexuality and the men who really want to sleep with her.
As for the kind of love, I guess you can easily call it "lust" when it comes to the male characters but for the character of Zoe, it's more of "In Search of Love" because she does hope that through her business, she will a man that she can truly love.
So, in essence, "Boccaccio'70' is a love story. Four different love stories and we have seen quite a few anthology films such as "Paris, Je T'aime" to another "different kind of love" type of film with the Hong Kong anthology "Heroes in Love".
But there are several things of what leads to the efficacy of "Boccaccio '70'. One is the fact that you have four well-known filmmakers taking part in the film and that you have four talented actresses highlighting the film. Granted, possibly another reason why Producer Conti eliminated "Renzo e Luciana" was because Marisa Solinas was not the star actress compared to Sophia Loren, Anita Ekberg or Romy Schneider. These three women also became a popular muse for the respective filmmaker they had worked with, Loren with De Sica, Ekberg with Fellini and Schneider with Visconti.
But as much as I have enjoyed this film in the past, one thing that I'm happy about watching it on Blu-ray is for its quality and the fact that I can watch this film with better picture and audio quality as in the past, what I have seen of this film, the presentation on video was terrible and very aged. So, I applaud Kino Lorber for releasing this film on Blu-ray.
But with "Boccaccio '70', watching it again, this time around, it was a film that I had to watch in two sittings. At over three hours, I wanted to savor each film by watching only two at a time. To appreciate each story for its own visual style and direction. And I'm glad I did, because I felt I noticed much more in terms of cinematography, what was captured on camera, mannerisms of each character (from the wiggle and jiggle of Loren's Zoe, Visconti's closeup especially showcasing Schneider's eyes, Fellini's direction when it comes to capturing certain visuals and even the innocence and playfulness of Solinas' Luciana, I found each story to be entertaining when watching them separately on my own time versus watching it all in one setting. It's a long film and I don't know if I could have dedicated myself to watching all four stories in a row in a theater setting. So, watching on Blu-ray made this film much more enjoyable for me.
But as mentioned earlier, this is a solid Blu-ray release. I don't think the picture quality can be any better unless a lot of money is spent in doing a full-on restoration. But not many films do get that kind of restoration because of the costs involved. But the fact that you get all four stories on one Blu-ray release, for any cinema fans who are fans of Monicelli, Fellini, Viscont or De Sica or even the beautiful talent of this film, "Boccaccio '70' is a wonderful, hilarious and entertaining anthology about love during 1960's Italy.
" The bet" is a demolishing, incisive and merciless of a decaying marriage, when the husband of a very rich wealthy and alluring woman (the exquisite and unforgettable Romy Schneider) in a role that fits for her to perfection. She personifies the woman of the sixties at the eve of the feminine liberation, and so did she when she notices has been cheated by his husband and so she will take her own and brutal revenge. This is by far, the most mature of the three portraits, with that exquisiteness so typical of Luchino Visconti.
"The temptation of Saint Anthony" is a cynical and mundane parable; a demolishing satire about the Freudian man, who suffers in his own flesh all the sins of the world, product of the voluptuousness emanated from Anita Eckberg in a huge poster with a suggestive semiotic lexicon. That portrait will become for him a true set of bad dreams, but the way in which is told a this acidic surrealistic and mordacious story is so brilliant that the rest of the plot runs for you.
Finally, "The raffle" is perhaps the less relevant and banal of the previous two. It has to do with the times and livings of woman in search of love in the middle of a raffle (a sharp metaphor of life), but the script is extremely weak to hold the previous entries of FEFE and Visconti.
Fortunately the first two justify plainly your purchase. A cult movie to enjoy over and over, due the pristine elegance and mordacity that have resisted the test of time.
Overall: 5 stars because Il Maestro overwhelms every single complaint...in fact I suggest that you first watch disc 2 (Visconti/de Sica combo) and then go to disc 1 (Monicelli/Fellini)...
The Temptation of Dr. Antonio: Always my favorite satire on censorship from director Fellini about a prude's ambition to ban a milk billboard has great fantasy sequences with Anita Ekberg. Four Stars.
The Job: A wealthy man has his affair with a hooker exposed by the media to his wife. She wants the job, too. The most cynical segment of the film. Three stars. The Raffle: By far the best of the four stories when Sophia Loren becomes the prize for a timid man who wins the lottery. It makes me laugh every time, even 30 years later. Four stars. There aren't many extras added to the discs, and they are mostly about The Raffle. You do have your choice of English or Italian for three of the stories.
All of the films looked great and are restored anamorphic transfers. The Fellini film was my favorite by far. This is his first feature using color as well as featuring dreams/fantasy in his films. I couldn't help think of Attack of the 50ft Woman seeing the charming Anita come to life off a billboard. This is as close to comedy as Fellini got , too bad he didn't explore this more often. Fellini's segment is almost an hour.
The Visconti piece was lavishly produced and feautured a troubled wife trying to rekindle that spark. This takes place in a high class French styled mansion. Romy is nice to look at even if she is rather pathetic. This mini drama was the most serious of the 4 and rather depressing as it unfolded.
The last two were rather light and forgetful even if Sophia Loren looked fabulous, and was omni present in her role as a carnival spinster with a change of heart.
The extras are fun. Lots of on set pics and lobby cards , plus a large fold out booklet with press clippings and news reviews.The U.S. and Italian trailers are intresting to compare.
If your a Fellini fan, you would do well to see this for his giantess fantasy alone!
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