Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
Original title: Le streghe
Italy/France, 1967. Dino de Laurentiis Cinematografica, Les Productions Artistes Associes. Story and screenplay “La Strega Bruciata Viva” by Giuseppe Patroni Griffi, collaboration with Cesare Zavattini, Story and screenplay “Senso Civico” and “La Siciliana” by Agenore Incrocci, Furio Scarpelli, Bernardino Zapponi, Story and screenplay “La Terra Vista Dalla Luna” by Pier Paolo Pasolini, Story and screenplay “Una Sera Come Le Altre” by Cesare Zavattini, collaboration with Fabio Carpi, Enzo Muzii. Cinematography by Giuseppe Rotunno. Produced by Dino De Laurentiis. Music by Ennio Morricone, Piero Piccioni. Production Design by Mario Garbuglia, Piero Poletto. Costume Design by Piero Tosi. Film Editing by Nino Baragli, Adriana Novelli, Mario Serandrei, Giorgio Serrallonga.
The popularity of Boccaccio ’70 flooded the Italian market with omnibus films, from the Oscar winning Yesterday Today and Tomorrow to the English-language Woman Times Seven (both by Vittorio De Sica, incidentally), so it’s no surprise that Dino de Laurentiis commissioned one in which his wife Silvana Mangano would star (and he hires De Sica here too). The great actress does a fine job in five shorts directed by a host of notable filmmakers, all of which feature her challenging the roles that women are forced to fit themselves in to by a patriarchal society. The first is the best, Luchino Visconti directing her as a film star who arrives at a ski chalet surrounded by the glacial barriers that come with being a celebrity in public, looking perfect and being protected by her entourage. When she is taken ill during a party, the guests can’t get enough of taken her apart, piece by piece. In the second short, Mauro Bolognini directs Mangano and Totò in a silly jaunt about a woman whose rush to get to an appointment is interrupted by a car accident, prompting her to offer an injured man a ride to the hospital in order to move things along. Following that is Pasolini’s anemic short about a man and his son who look for an ideal woman to replace their dead mother/wife, then comes Franco Rossi’s spoof on Sicilian blood vendetta films. The final piece is by de Sica, a paltry effort in which she plays a bored housewife (to a dubbed Clint Eastwood, whose salary for this film was a brand new Ferrari) who escapes into some pretty funky fantasies to deal with the fact that her husband is no longer a passionate lover. They’re all made with the crafty wink that most sixties Italian sex comedies featured before the following decades would turn them into excuses for exploitation, but despite the efforts by the highly versatile lead, this one falls flat and the overall experience is tiresome.