Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
Original title: Divorzio All’Italiana
Italy, 1961. Lux Film, Vides Cinematografica, Galatea Film. Story and Screenplay by Ennio De Concini, Pietro Germi, Alfredo Giannetti. Cinematography by Leonida Barboni, Carlo Di Palma. Produced by Franco Cristaldi. Music by Carlo Rustichelli. Production Design by Carlo Egidi. Costume Design by Dina Di Bari. Film Editing by Roberto Cinquini.
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 Stefania Sandrelli). Unfortunately, there’s the problem of his clingy, overbearing wife (Daniela Rocca, 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.
The Criterion Collection: #286
Academy Award: Best Original Screenplay
Nominations: Best Actor (Marcello Mastroianni); Best Director (Pietro Germi)
Cannes Film Festival: In Competition
Golden Globe Award: Best Actor-Musical/Comedy (Marcello Mastroianni)