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Boccaccio ’70 (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 6, 2011 by  



Featuring four of Italy’s greatest filmmakers Vittorio De Sica, Federico Fellini, Mario Monicelli and Luchino Visconti showing us love Italian style during the early 1960’s.   The Blu-ray release includes the Mario Monicelli’s “Renzeo e Luciana” (which was removed from the original American release) and this hilarious and sultry classic makes its Blu-ray debut!  Definitely recommended!

Images courtesy of © 1962 Surf Film SRL.  2011 Kino Lorber, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Boccaccio ’70

FILM RELEASE: 1962

DURATION: 204 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1920x1080p, 1:85:1 , Italian with English Subtitles, Mono 1.0, Color

COMPANY: Lorber Films/Kino Lorber

RATED: Not Rated

Release Date: 2011

“Renzo e Luciana”

Directed by Mario Monicelli

Written by Giovanni Arpino, Italo Calvino, Suso Cecchi d’Amico, Mario Monicelli

Le tentazioni del dottor Antonio”

Directed by Federico Fellini

Written by Federico Fellini, Ennio Flaiano, Goffredo Parise, Tullio Pinelli, Brunello Rondi

“Il lavoro”

Written and directed by Luchino Visconti

“La Riffa”

Directed by Vittorio De Sica

Written by Cesare Zavattini

Starring:

“Renzo e Luciana”

Marisa Solinas as Luciana

Germano Gilioli as Renzo

“Le tentazioni del dottor Antonio”

Anita Ekberg as Anita

Peppino De Filippo as Dr. Antonio Mazzuolo

“Il lavoro”

Romy Schneider as Pupe

Tomas Milian as Conte Ottavio

Romolo Valli  as Zacchi

“La riffa”

Sophia Loren as Zoe

Luigi Guiuliani as Gaetano

Alfio Vita as Cuspet

Four legendary filmmakers direct some of Europe’s biggest stars in BOCCACCIO ’70, a landmark anthology film. Mario Monicelli (Big Deal on Madonna Street), Federico Fellini (8½), Luchino Visconti (The Leopard) and Vittorio De Sica (Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow) direct Sophia Loren, Anita Ekberg, Romy Schneider and more through four stories of unashamed eros. Modeled on Boccaccio’s Decameron, they are comic moral tales about the hypocrisies surrounding sex in 1960s Italy.

Monicelli’s “Renzo e Luciana” (cut out of the original American release) is a frothy tale of young love and office politics in the big city. Fellini’s notorious “Le tentazioni del dottor Antonio” features Ekberg as a busty model in a milk advertisement whose image begins to haunt an aging prude. Visconti’s “Il Lavoro” stars Romy Schneider as a trophy wife enduring her husband’s very public affairs, and De Sica’s “La Riffa” raffles off a night with Sophia Loren to a lucky ticket holder during a small town fair.

Bursting with passion and sly satire, Boccaccio ’70 is a glittering showcase for some of the greatest talents in movie history.

Sexy, fun and daring!  “Boccacio ’70” is a an enjoyable anthology about love in the style of Boccacio featuring the works of four renown Italian filmmakers.

In 1962, the anthology film “Boccaccio ’70” was released.  Featuring an idea by Italian screenwriter Cesare Zavattini (one of the proponents of the Neorealist movement in Italian cinema), the film would focus on the style of Boccaccio, the work of 1300’s Italian author and poet Giovanni Boccaccio.

In Italy, the film would feature four stories directed by Mario Monicelli (“Casanova 70”, “The Organizer”, “Caro Michele”, “A Tailor’s Maid”), Federico Fellini (“8 1/2”, “La Dolce Vita”, “Juliet of the Spirits”, “I Vitelloni”), Luchino Visconti (“Rocco and His Brothers”, “The Leopard”, “Death in Venice”, “La Terra Trema”) and Vittorio De Sica (“Bicycle Thieves”, “Umberto D.”, “Marriage Italian Style”).

While the Italian version featured all four stories, producer Carlos Ponti decided to make it a trilogy due to its 3 hour+ duration and decided to cut out Mario Monicelli’s story for its worldwide release.  So, for its Cannes Film Festival premiere, in support of Monicelli, the other three directors did not go to Cannes premiere.

So, while the world is familiar with the trilogy of films in “Boccaccio ’70”, for the Blu-ray release of this Italian anthology classic, all four films are presented.

The first story of the anthology is “Renzo e Luciana”, a drama directed by Mario Monicelli focuses on a young married couple, Renzo (played by Germano Gilioli, “The Consequences”) and Luciana (played by Marisa Solinas, “The Consequences”, “The Grim Reaper”).  The newlyweds who have promised each other to keep their relationship secret because Luciana’s workplace forbids marriages and women having children.  In fact, her boss always seems to be checking up on her status and also uses the outside of work time to be near her.  But lying about being single is starting to have its toll on the couple, but as newlyweds and wanting to buy a new home, how long can they keep up the charade?

The second story of the anthology is titled “Le tentazioni del dottor Antonio”, a comedy directed by Federico Fellini.  For this story, Dr. Antonio (played by Peppino De Filippo, “Variety Lights”, “Non è vero… ma ci credo”) is a man who lives with morals.  In fact, he despises anything naughty in public and will often go to parks and disrupt couples who are making out.  But one day, a large billboard featuring busty Swedish model Anita Ekberg (“La Dolce Vita”, “I Clowns”, “Intervista”) promoting the “drinking of milk” is put right in front of his apartment window.  Dr. Antonio does all he can to have it removed because he feels it is indecent.  But each time he sees the billboard, he begins to daydream about Anita calling out to him.

The third story of “Boccaccio ’70” is titled “Il Lavoro”, directed by Luchino Visconti.  The story focuses on a married couple.  A married couple not for love but for two powerful, rich families who wanted their children to marry for business reasons.  But for businessman Conte Ottavio (played by Tomas Milian, “Traffic”, “Amistad”, “Washington Heights”), when he is featured in newspapers of him cavorting with prostitutes, his legal team begin to work on a plan to salvage his name as his wife, Pupe (played by Romy Schneider, “The Trial”, “That Most Important Thing: Love”, “The Old gun”) and her wealthy father has frozen the assets, so Conte literally has no money.

But for Pupe, she is sick about how her life is all about money, what her husband Conte wants her for is primarily money and the fact that he keeps going out with prostitutes upsets her deeply.  But when Pupe makes the decision to eliminate her wealth and work for a living (to prove to her father that she can earn money on her own), how will she do it?

The fourth and final story of the anthology is titled “La riffa” and is directed by Vittorio De Sica.  In “La riffa”, it’s festival time in a small town in Italy and word gets around that those who purchase a “certain” lottery ticket can win a night with Zoe (played by Sophia Loren, “Marriage Italian Style”, “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow”, “Sunflower”).  The lottery ticket corresponds to the actual Naples Lottery, so as each man takes a look at Zoe, each of them wants to desperately win a night with the curvaceous beauty and try to buy as many lottery tickets they can.  But why would Zoe offer her body in a lottery?

Four stories showcasing love Italian style ala 1960’s.

VIDEO:

“Boccaccio ’70” is a film that probably will not look any better than what we see on this Blu-ray.  While not a pristine print, the film does look its age but where it probably looks better than any of its previous counterparts is how well the film does look during the daylight.  The story of “Le tentazioni del dottor Antonio looks absolutely beautiful as Fellini shows us the vibrant colors of the area, “La Riffa” showcases the vibrant red of Sophia Loren.

There is a good amount of grain that we can see from the overall film, nothing to overly drastic.  If anything, the overall look of the film is very good.  I noticed even more detail especially the makeup in “Il Lavoro” as Romy Schneider looks absolutely stunning in the film. I did notice some artifacts but nothing that diminishes your viewing of the overall film.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

The audio for “Boccaccio ’70” is presented in Italian monaural 1.0.  I have seen this film before where the audio sounds so loud and crackly, but good news for fans of “Boccaccio ’70” is that the audio is very good and dialogue is clear.  Especially during the musical moments of the film, especially the “milk song” played throughout “Le tentazioni del dottor Antonio” and of course Sophia Loren’s singing vocal segments of “La riffa”.

But I chose to have my receiver set on stereo on all channels to have a more immersive soundtrack.  But while testing it on monaural, dialogue and music were quite clear, no sign of hiss, crackle or popping throughout the film.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Boccacio ’70” comes with the following special features:

  • Boccaccio ’70 Theatrical Trailer – The US or worldwide trailer minus “Renzo e Luciana”.
  • Stills – Featuring stills for all four shorts from the anthology.

EXTRAS:

“Boccaccio ’70” comes with a slipcase cover.

Sexy and entertaining!  “Boccaccio ’70” is an entertaining anthology featuring the work of four renown Italian filmmakers and also featuring an all-star cast.

But most importantly, with the Blu-ray release of “Boccaccio ’70”, viewers will finally get to see what was shown in Italy, not a trilogy but all four stories.

With Mario Monicelli’s “Renzo e Luciana”, what I enjoyed about this film is how it showcases the busy metropolitan city in Italy.  But also a scene from yesteryear, especially the busy public pools.  To see the number of people at the pools during the hot summer, people of all ages, was quite interesting but also to see how possibly some business were back in the day of not allowing their female workers to keep a job if they are married or have children.

May it be fears of missing an employee and slowing production or that is the style of Luciana’s Draconian boss, but it was quite interesting to see the story of a young couple in love and the challenges they had to make sure they had the income to make their marriage work and plan for their family home.

But Monicelli’s story does showcase innocent love or unconditional love.

The second story “Le Tentazioni del Dottor Antonio” is interesting in the fact that we have a story of a conservative who does all he can to stop indecency.  And of course, where we have seen conservative politicians to TV evangelists succumb to their own sins, the same can be said about Dr. Antonio.  Not so much with a real woman but the fact that he finds himself falling in love with the buxom Swedish blond model, Anita Ekberg on his billboard across the street from his apartment.

While the film is a much slower pace compared to the other three films, what makes “Le Tentazioni del Dottor Antonio” an entertaining comedy is its characters and the “milk song” which is played throughout the film.  The film is also quite vibrant with its various characters, many who support the milk billboard with Anita Ekberg but there is no doubt, in 1962, Ekberg’s appearance and showcasing her body was a big draw for viewers at the time.

As for love, this love I suppose can be classified as “blind love”.

The third story “Il lavoro” is possibly my favorite story and the saddest of the three.  Romy Schneider absolutely shines in this film and without spoiling the film, the story of how two people became a couple for the sake of their parents in building an empire, call it a business transaction.  But for Pupe (Schneider), while the men are about the money, for her, it’s about love and wondering why her husband must gallivant towards prostitutes while he is married.  So, when she gives up her wealth to take a job, it’s the job that becomes the most surprising, and the only way she is able to make her husband be with her, even if its not true, romantic love.

What kind of love would I call this film?  I would have to call it, “demeaning love”.

The final and fourth story is possibly the most exciting of the four.   A film that shows us how wonderful the collaboration between Vittoria De Sica and actress Sophia Loren. “La riffa” starring the vibrant Loren as carnival worker Zoe.  A hardworking woman who depends on no man, but is willing to be there for her pregnant friend and help them financially by using her body to entice people to purchase lottery tickets for possibly one night of romance with her. And of course, nearly every man wants one night with Zoe.

Of course, during the process, she does meet a young man that she cares about.  But when he finds out about the lottery, he is saddened.   What happens when one man, a shy timid Christian man wins the lottery?

If you love Sophia Loren and you loved her in films such as “Marriage Italian Style” or “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow”, she is absolutely sexy in this film.  And she doesn’t play the naive character, she’s a pretty strong-willed character that calls the shots and is quite aware of her sexuality and the men who really want to sleep with her.

As for the kind of love, I guess you can easily call it “lust” when it comes to the male characters but for the character of Zoe, it’s more of “In Search of Love” because she does hope that through her business, she will a man that she can truly love.

So, in essence, “Boccaccio’70” is a love story.  Four different love stories and we have seen quite a few anthology films such as “Paris, Je T’aime” to another “different kind of love” type of film with the Hong Kong anthology “Heroes in Love”.

But there are several things of what leads to the efficacy of “Boccaccio ’70”.  One is the fact that you have four well-known filmmakers taking part in the film and that you have four talented actresses highlighting the film.  Granted, possibly another reason why Producer Conti eliminated “Renzo e Luciana” was because Marisa Solinas was not the star actress compared to Sophia Loren, Anita Ekberg or Romy Schneider.  These three women also became a popular muse for the respective filmmaker they had worked with, Loren with De Sica, Ekberg with Fellini and Schneider with Visconti.

But as much as I have enjoyed this film in the past, one thing that I’m happy about watching it on Blu-ray is for its quality and the fact that I can watch this film with better picture and audio quality as in the past, what I have seen of this film, the presentation on video was terrible and very aged.  So, I applaud Kino Lorber for releasing this film on Blu-ray.

But with “Boccaccio ’70”, watching it again, this time around, it was a film that I had to watch in two sittings.  At over three hours, I wanted to savor each film by watching only two at a time.  To appreciate each story for its own visual style and direction. And I’m glad I did, because I felt I noticed much more in terms of cinematography, what was captured on camera, mannerisms of each character (from the wiggle and jiggle of Loren’s Zoe, Visconti’s closeup especially showcasing Schneider’s eyes, Fellini’s direction when it comes to capturing certain visuals and even the innocence and playfulness of Solinas’ Luciana, I found each story to be entertaining when watching them separately on my own time versus watching it all in one setting.  It’s a long film and I don’t know if I could have dedicated myself to watching all four stories in a row in a theater setting.  So, watching on Blu-ray made this film much more enjoyable for me.

But as mentioned earlier, this is a solid Blu-ray release.  I don’t think the picture quality can be any better unless a lot of money is spent in doing a full-on restoration.  But not many films do get that kind of restoration because of the costs involved.  But the fact that you get all four stories on one Blu-ray release, for any cinema fans who are fans of Monicelli, Fellini, Viscont or De Sica or even the beautiful talent of this film, “Boccaccio ’70” is a wonderful, hilarious and entertaining anthology about love during 1960’s Italy.

Definitely recommended!

 

 






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