Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5
Original title: Matrimonio All’Italiana
Italy/France, 1964. Compagnia Cinematografica Champion, Les Films Concordia. Screenplay by Renato Castellani, Tonino Guerra, Leonardo Benvenuti, Piero De Bernardi, based on the play Filumena Marturano by Eduardo De Filippo. Cinematography by Roberto Gerardi. Produced by Carlo Ponti. Music by Armando Trovajoli. Production Design by Carlo Egidi. Costume Design by Piero Tosi, Vera Marzot. Film Editing by Adriana Novelli. Academy Awards 1964. Academy Awards 1965. Golden Globe Awards 1964.
It’s impossible to believe there was anyone ever more impressive than Sophia Loren at the height of her powers. This movie shows her off to excellent effect, as Vittorio De Sica follows Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow with another masterful look at sexual politics in modern-day Italy. He also once again assembles the heavyweight pairing of Loren and superstar Marcello Mastroianni, she as a woman forced by post-war circumstances into prostitution and he the aristocratic rake who becomes her regular lover. After years of her being not only his mistress but managing his business affairs, Loren decides she wants a respectable relationship out of her man, but he balks at the idea of marriage. Not one to be thwarted in her desires, Loren tricks Mastroianni into marrying her by feigning illness, which it turns out is motivated by more than just her desire for respectability. Written off as one of the better Italian sex comedies to begin decades of imitations (the other keystone being, ironically, Divorce Italian Style), the film is actually much more than a satire, a probing, moving and often very hard-hitting tale about the inequality of the sexes in a relentlessly Catholic country, and the breaking of rules that can happen because of strong familial love. De Sica’s direction is top-notch, while the performances are unbelievably strong.