Adua e le compagne (Adua and her Friends) (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
January 17, 2015 by Dennis Amith
“Adua e le compagne (Adua and her Friends)” is among the most memorable films from filmmaker Antonio Pietrangeli. Featuring a fine cast of actresses and an entertaining and enjoyable storyline, if you are a fan of ’60s Italian cinema, you owe it yourself to own this wonderful Blu-ray release! “Adua e le compagne (Adua and her Friends)” is recommended!
TITLE: Adua e le compagne (Adua and her Friends)
FILM RELEASE: 1960
DURATION: 129 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, (1:65:1 aspect ratio), Original Italian, PCM Linear Dual Mono, Subtitles in English
COMPANY: Raro Video
RATED: Not Rated
RELEASE DATE: January 20, 2015
Directed by Antonio Pietrangeli
Story by Ruggero Maccari, Antoni Pietrangeli, Ettore Scola
Screenplay by Ruggero Maccari, Antonio Pietrangeli, Tullio Pinelli
Produced by Moris Ergas
Music by Piero Piccioni
Cinematography by Gianni Di Venanzo
Edited by Eraldo Da Roma
Production Design by Luigi Scaccianoce
Simone Signoret as Adua Giovanetti
Sandra Milo as Lolita
Emmanuelle Riva as Marilina
Gina Rovere as Caterina Zellero, detta Milly
Claudia Gora as Ercoli
Gianrico Tedeschi as Stefano
Antonio Rais as Emilio
Marcello Mastroiani as Piero Salvagni
A rare masterpiece and a wonderful example of Italian Cinema starring two European film icons, Simone Signoret and Marcello Mastroianni, Adua and her Friends tells the story of four prostitutes forced to fend for themselves when a new law closes the bordellos of Rome. They pool their savings to open a trattoria, but find they cannot get a license. A prominent fixer with connections obtains the license for them, on the condition that they conduct their old business upstairs and pay him an exorbitant monthly fee. The works of Pietrangeli, one of the most talented members of the Italian neo-realism movement and capable of delivering gems such as Adua and her Friends and The Visitor definitely deserves to be revisited and to be exposed to a larger international audience.
A filmmaker who was known for his films and working with female talent in the commedia all’italian genre, Antonio Pietrangeli will be known as a director with so much potential, but also as a filmmaker who died while working on a film.
In his 15-years as a filmmaker, among his highlights in his oeuvre is his 1960 film “Adua e le compagne” (also known as “Adua and her Friends”). A film co-written with filmmaker Ruggero Maccari, Ettore Scola and revered screenwriter and Federico Fellini collaborator, Tullio Pinelli.
The film would star well-known talents such as French actress Simone Signoret (“Casque d’or”, “The Crucible”, “Room at the Top”, “Ship of Fools”), Italian actress Sandra Milo (“8 1/2”, “Juliet of the Spirits”), French actress Emmanuelle Riva (“Hiroshima mon amour”, “Amour”), Italian actress Gina Rovere (“Big Deal on Madonna Street”, “Life is Beautiful”) and actor Marcello Mastroianni (“8 1/2”, “La Dolce Vitta”, “Divorce Italian Style”).
And now Pietrangeli classic “Adua e le compagne” will be released on Blu-ray in North America courtesy of Raro Video.
The film begins with a brothel shutting down and prostitute Adua Giovannetti (portrayed by Simone Signoret) coming up with a business plan to create a brothel but in order to get clients, for her and her business partners to start off by creating a restaurant.
But in order to make this plan work, she needs business partners and she enlists the sexy and bubbly Lolita (portrayed by Sandra Milo), the often stressed out single mother Marilina (portrayed by Emmanuelle Riva) and the quiet, yet fiery Milly (portrayed by Gina Rovere).
The four pool in their money and purchase a run down building but yet rebuild it to become a beautiful restaurant.
But as the four of them want to escape their former lives as prostitutes, the more they miss the life of making money by sleeping with men.
And as the plan is to create the atmosphere of starting their own restaurant and bringing patrons through their door, their goal is to slowly attract the male visitors for their brothel. But will their plan work?
“Adua e le compagne (Adua and her Friends)” is presented in 1080p High Definition (black and white, 1:66:1).
The film is well-contrast as black levels are nice and deep, whites and grays are presented also with very good clarity. I didn’t notice any glaring problems with prominent artifacts, nor did I see any major film damage such as scratches or stains.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Adua e le compagne (Adua and her Friends)” is presented in Italian linear PCM 2.0 with English subtitles. Dialogue is clear via center channel. I didn’t notice any hiss, crackling or pops during my viewing of the film. Piero Piccioni’s score sounds crisp and clear, as well as the dialogue.
“Adua e le compagne (Adua and her Friends)” comes with the following special features:
- Introduction by Maurizio Porro – (6:57) Featuring an introduction by cinema journalist Maurizio Porro.
- Short film: “Girandola 1910” – (10:31) A short by director Antonio Pietrangeli.
“Adua e le compagne (Adua and her Friends)” comes with a slipcover and a 12-page booklet featuring essays such as “Prospectus” by Bruno di Marino and also an introduction by Lara Nicoli which was for the original VHS release of “Adua e le compagne (Adua and her Friends)” from Minerva Classic.
“Adua e le compagne (Adua and her Friends)” is an Antonio Pietrangeli film that has captivated Italian cinema fans for decades.
Often called a feminist film as four women try to become independent and run a professional business was against the norm of what was released in Italian cinema during the ’50s and ’60s, but to also show a sign of desperation as four of the women are prostitutes who want nothing more but to live a different life but can they?
The film features two well-known actresses from French cinema, Simone Signoret and Emmanuel Riva who give a wonderful performance along with Sandra Milo and Gina Rovere as four women who must take their lives into a new direction as their brothel was closed due to the Merlin Law of 1959.
While the Italian Cineaste may remember Federico Fellini’s “Nights of Cabiria” of 1957 as a film that showed audiences about the challenging life of a prostitute, but yet feels liberated because of the independence the job brings to her. The emotional discontent of the prostitute is further more captured in Pier Paolo Pasolini’s film “Accattone” which showed that Italian society must conform to modern consumerist culture. Pasolini called it “cultural genocide”.
And the same can be seen with Antonio Pietrangeli’s film “Adua e le compagne” (also known as”Adua and her Friends”) as four prostitutes, forced out of their job due to the Merlin Law band together, pool their money to rent a flat and in order to avoid the law, create a restaurant.
And it’s through the restaurant that these women start to see a sign of their own success but also a place of safety.
Their restaurant allows them to befriend a monk from the nearby Catholic monastery, the restaurant allows the women to meet men who respect them, the restaurant allows a single mother to reunite with her son that she never sees.
But as the restaurant brings them to peace, safety and success, not all is good as the women start to miss their old life and making money through sex.
The goal of having a restaurant to entice men and to have a hidden brothel becomes problematic when their old customers start arriving to the restaurant with their families. Their guilty conscience starts to get the best of them when they meet well-mannered, loving men but to not know how a man would react to their past life.
“Adua e le compagne (Adua and her Friends)” is a film that is not as deep or dark as a Fellini or Passolini film about prostitution but it ranks high up there because it is a film that presented hope, but similar in the fact that to these women, there is no escape. And Pietrangeli is able to bring out human emotion, the anguish of a life that one wanted, what one hoped for, but to see it destroyed.
There is no doubt that “Adua e le compagne (Adua and her Friends)” will be seen as one of Antonio Pietrangeli’s finest films from his oeuvre, next to his Berlin International Film Festival award winning 1964 film “La Visita” and his 1965 Silver Ribbon award winning film “Io la conoscevo bene”. While he directed 14 films and wrote screenplays for many, unfortunately, the Pietrangeli would die in a drowning while filming “Come, quando, perche” in 1969.
As mentioned earlier, the film does star quite a bit of talent including Marcello Mastroianni who plays a seedy salesman/playboy. But the film entices you with its four female talent. Simone Signoret plays a strong character, Adua Giovannetti, who tries to keep the business together and making sure the women don’t stray far from what they agreed upon. But her final scene is heartbreaking considering you want to root for Adua because she was able to create a major business but unfortunate situations happen.
Sandra Milo is the film’s bombshell with her flirty, bubbly attitude. Emmanuelle Riva plays the single mother who has her own personal issues, part of her wants to be a mother to her son, while part of her misses the life of a being a prostitute. And you have Gina Rovere, the person who has the opportunity to live a normal life with a man, but feels to guilty because of her past.
You want to root for these women to be successful but like other Italian films about prostitution, unlike America’s “Pretty Woman”, there is not always a happy ending or a fairy tale… just reality.
The film looks very good on Blu-ray as I didn’t see any major film damage during my viewing. The soundtrack was also crisp and clear with no signs of popping or crackling. And you also get a few special features and a 12-page booklet which are included.
Overall, “Adua e le compagne (Adua and her Friends)” is among the most memorable films from filmmaker Antonio Pietrangeli. Featuring a fine cast of actresses and an entertaining and enjoyable storyline, if you are a fan of ’60s Italian cinema, you owe it yourself to own this wonderful Blu-ray release!
“Adua e le compagne (Adua and her Friends)” is recommended!
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