(out of 5)
Four movies for the price of one, though at three and a half hours you certainly feel like you’ve had to work for it. Four situations are constructed around erotic folly in the spirit of the titular fourteenth century writer, trying to recapture and expand on the success of Yesterday, Today And Tomorrow but this time with four different directors and casts. Mario Monicelli opens with a sweet tale of a newly married couple who are counting lire to move out of her parents’ house and have the kind of privacy a new couple deserves, but the results aren’t exactly fulfilling. Federico Fellini follows with the best of the bunch, about a morally indignant Roman citizen who objects to the sexy poster of Anita Ekberg selling milk in an ad outside his window. His obsession eventually brings her to life in a sequence full of energy and delight. Then we go sober with Luchino Visconti’s classy look at an aristocratic couple who are in the papers when he (Tomas Milian) is photographed by dallying with a sexy mistress. His wife (Romy Schneider) doesn’t react with the desire to divorce but with the announcement that she intends to go back to work and be her own woman. The concluding chapter, and likely the biggest box office draw, is Vittorio De Sica’s short about Sophia Loren working a carnival booth and selling herself in a lottery to help pay off her taxes. The insanity she causes among the men around her makes for a much lighter and funnier tale than you’d expect, and watching her usual dominant personality resist being pushed around is a pleasure to behold. All four tales are told with a lightness and charm, sexy without being dirty, in each case displaying women who fight against being exploited or dominated by men and, in all cases, are not exactly fulfilled by their success. Monicelli’s film is restored to the current version, originally cut for theatrical release because it is the only one without above the line stars (Carlo Ponti offered to finance a full feature version for him to make up for it). Without its inclusion, the running time is less burdensome, but either way these delightful shorts are, even at around forty-five minutes each, longer than necessary.
Screenplay by Giovanni Arpino, Italo Calvino, Suso Cecchi D’Amico, Federico Fellini, Ennio Flaiano, Mario Monicelli, Goffredo Parise, Tullio Pinelli, Brunello Rondi, Luchino Visconti, Cesare Zavattini
Produced by Carlo Ponti
Costume Design by Piero Zuffi, Piero Tosi