Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5
Original Title: Calabuch
Spain/Italy, 1956. Águila Films, Films Costellazione. Story by Leonardo Martín, Screenplay by Leonardo Martín, Florentino Soria, Ennio Flaiano, Luis García Berlanga. Cinematography by Francisco Sempere. Produced by José Luis Jerez Aloza. Music by Guido Guerrini. Production Design by Román Calatayud. Film Editing by Pepita Orduna.
Proof that even when not making one of his more scintillating, energetic comedies, director Luis Garcia Berlanga can still put across something enjoyable and satisfying. This charmer stars Edmund Gwenn as an American rocket scientist hiding out in the Spanish town of the title after running away from his work on the atom bomb. Authorities are hunting him down to keep state secrets contained, while he gets himself involved in the concerns of the village inhabitants, including a romantically charming smuggler (Franco Fabrizi), an elegant schoolteacher (Valentina Cortese), and a feisty lighthouse keeper and his conflicts with the local priest. Gwenn does his best to enjoy his time in this Mediterranean paradise while knowing that his past will eventually catch up with him, particularly when he helps the town create a rocket that satisfies a rivalry with a nearby village and it leads to him being recognized. Gentle and good-natured, Berlanga puts as much commentary into his observation of Spanish society as in his sharpest films but at a much more relaxed pace than usual.
Venice Film Festival: In Competition