Divorce–Italian Style (1961)

PIETRO GERMI

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB

Original title:  Divorzio All’Italiana

Italy, 1961.  , , .  Story and Screenplay by , Pietro Germi, .  Cinematography by , .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  Academy Awards 1962.  Cannes Film Festival 1962.  Golden Globe Awards 1962.  

Wry comedy that spawned an entire genre of sex farces, none of which ever matched this one for political satire and clever character depth. Marcello Mastroianni is terrific as a bored, lazy aristocrat whose generally uninspiring existence leads him to fall madly in love with and long to marry his young, beautiful cousin (a dewy ). Unfortunately, there’s the problem of his clingy, overbearing wife (, who is truly hilarious) and the fact that Italy does not allow divorce. Italian law, however, does provide a minimal sentence for any murder committed in the heat of passion and the rectification of honour, prompting our cartoonishly evil hero to find a lover for his spouse that would justify his murdering her. Pietro Germi’s direction has a lot of style and vigour, and the black and white cinematography is gorgeous in this huge international hit that is not nearly as naughty now as it was when it was originally released, but hasn’t lost any of its charm.

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