Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB
Original title: Ieri, Oggi, Domani
Italy/France, 1963. Compagnia Cinematografica Champion, Les Films Concordia. Story by Eduardo De Filippo, Cesare Zavattini, Screenplay by Eduardo De Filippo, Isabelle Quarantotti, Cesare Zavattini, Bella Billa, Lorenza Zanuso, based on the novella Troppo Ricca by Alberto Moravia. Cinematography by Giuseppe Rotunno. Produced by Carlo Ponti. Music by Armando Trovajoli. Production Design by Ezio Frigerio. Costume Design by Piero Tosi. Film Editing by Adriana Novelli. Academy Awards 1964. National Board of Review Awards 1964.
You’d think that having one of the fathers of Italian neorealism giving into the popularity of the Italian sex comedy would be a reason to mourn, but this deserving Oscar-winner is no sellout. De Sica uses the genre to his advantage as an opportunity to delive into issues of sexuality, class, and religion in 1960s Italy as he tells three stories about three very provocative women. In the first (and best), Sophia Loren plays a poor housewife who protects her family from starvation by selling contraband cigarettes and constantly getting her exhausted husband (Marcello Mastroianni) to impregnate her in order to avoid going to jail. In the second, a short piece that acts more as a bridge between the other two stories, Loren plays a wealthy housewife having an affair with businessman Mastroianni, who reveals in a few short strokes her chilling categorization of humanity. In the third, most iconic piece (which includes the now famous striptease), she plays a prostitute whose star client (Mastroianni) is beyond frustration waiting to get it on with her while she makes a touching friendship with a neighbouring seminary student. Loren is at the height of her powers here, physically ravishing and giving an outstanding performance, while De Sica shines as both writer and director in one of the country’s most magnificent films from this period.