The Widower (1959)

DINO RISI

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB

Original title:  Il Vedovo

Italy, 1959.  Cino del Duca, Paneuropa.  Story by , Dino Risi, , Screenplay by Fabio Carpi, , Dino Risi, Rodolfo Sonego, .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

A Milanese factory owner () is anxiously in need of cash to cover his failing business. All possible resources about town have been tapped and his creditors are coming to collect, prompting our talentless hero to turn to his absolute last possibility: his wife. She’s an heiress but keeps her assets to herself, smarter about investments and completely wise to her husband’s inability to manage his finances. What she doesn’t know is that much of his money goes to expensive gifts for his beautiful young mistress, whose mother is only agreeing to the affair because it’s financially lucrative for their fatherless family. When Sordi’s wife boards a train that, the newspapers report, ends up at the bottom of the river, his prayers are answered: he no longer needs to put up with his abusive shrew, and he gets all her millions. Pity he starts to spend them before he realizes that she missed the train. Still, the idea of death is now fixed in his mind and he begins to plot an Italian-style divorce in a comedy that is pointedly funny, featuring witty dialogue and marvelous direction by the magnificent Dino Risi. Sordi shines in the lead role; just watch his face when he first hears the news of his wife’s death, a smirk that is quickly followed by a theatrical groan. His brilliantly effortless work carries the film with remarkable affability, and if for nothing else makes this still-sparkling film well worth watching.

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