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Marriage Italian Style (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 18, 2011 by  



Featuring powerful performances by Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni!  “Marriage Italian Style” is my favorite film of the De Sica/Loren/Mastroianni collaboration and a film worth watching!

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Images courtesy of © 1965 Surf Film SRL, 2011 Kino Lorber, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Marriage Italian Style (Matrimonio all’italiana)

YEAR OF FILM: 1965

DURATION: 101 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1), Italian with English Subtitles

COMPANY: Lorber Films/Kino Lorber/Surf Film

RELEASE DATE: May 17, 2011

Directed by Vittorio De Sica

Based on the play “Filumena Marturano” by Eduardo De Filippo

Screenplay by Renato Castellani, Tonino Guerra, Leonardo Benvenuit, Piero De Bernardi

Produced by Carlo Ponti

Executive Producer: Joseph E. Levine

Music by Armando Trovajoli

Cinematography by Roberto Gerardi

Edited by Adriana Novelli

Production Design by Carlo Egidi

Set Decoration by Dario Micheli

Starring:

Sophia Loren as Filumena Marturano

Marcello Mastroianni as Domenico Soriano

Aldo Puglisi as Alfredo

Tecla Scarano as Rosalia

Marilu Tolo as Diana

Gianni Ridolfi as Umberto

Generoso Cortini as Michele

Vito Moricone as Riccardo

Rita Piccione as Teresina, seamstress

One of the most famous, and funniest, Italian comedies of all time, Marriage Italian Style received nominations for Best Foreign Language Film, and Best Actress for Sophia Loren, at the Academy Awards®.

Marcello Mastroianni co-stars as the irrepressibly carnal businessman Domenico, who discovers Loren’s Filumena as a young prostitute and keeps her as his mistress and confidante. When he chooses to marry a young cashier instead of her, Filumena is furious, and resorts to a series of wild and hilarious ruses to win back his hand.

Directed by the great Vittorio De Sica (The Bicycle Thief), Marriage Italian Style is a timelessly bawdy classic.


Vittorio De Sica, the filmmaker and actor who captured the attention of the world through Italian Neo-Realism with films such as “Shoeshine”, “The Bicycle Thief” and “Umberto D.”.

Known for his neorealist films in the ’40s and ’50s, by the ’60s, De Sica was a man who did what he wanted to do and that meant changing genres and experimenting with various themes. And in 1961, he would go on to create a film that would feature an all-star Italian and American cast titled “The Last Judgement” (Il Giudizio Universale) and also go from creating films about the poor to the people flourishing during the post-war economic boom (known as the Italian Economic Miracle) in which Italy would transform itself to a major industrial power starting from the ’50s through the ’70s. A subject that De Sica would focus in his 1963 comedy film “Il Boom”.

While known for his neorealistic films and also his starring role in the 1957 film “A Farewell to Arms” (which De Sica received a “Best Actor in a Supporting Role” Academy Award nomination), his 1963 film “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” (Ieri, oggi, domani) would win an Academy Award in 1965 for “Best Foreign Language Film”.

With the collaboration with actress Sophia Loren (“Two Women”, “Boccasio ’70”, “Marriage Italian Style”) and actor Marcello Mastroianni (“Divorce Italian Style”, “La Notte”, “La Dolce Vita”, “8 1/2”) resulting in success, the three reunited  again for the 1964 film “Marriage Italian Style” (“Matrimonio all’italiana”). The film is the second onscreen adaptation of the play “Filumena Marturano” by Eduardo De Filippo.

The film was nominated for an Academy Award for “Best Foreign Language Film” in 1966 and also a nomination for “Best Actress in a Leading Role” for Sophia Loren in 1965.

To celebrate the working relationship with filmmaker Vittorio De Sica, Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni, Kino Lorber have released three Blu-ray titles and a special four-disc DVD set featuring “Yesterday Today, Tomorrow”, “Marriage Italian Style” and “Sunflower”) as part of “The Sophia Loren Award Collection”.

“Marriage Italian Style” is a story that focuses on a wealthy businessman named Domenico Soriano (played by Marcello Mastroianni) and his mistress Filumena Marturano (played by Sophia Loren).

The film begins with people in the village carrying a sick Filumena who looks as if she is going to die.  The village and people are worried about her and news travels fast as they try to get her home.

A friend of Filumena goes to tell Domenico of Filumena’s sickness but he looks to busy working.  He tells him that she is really sick and Domenico thinks its just a ploy but when he goes to her home, he realizes that she may be dying.

Worried about the situation, we are given a flashback of the past of how Domenico met Filumena.

Many years ago during World War II, Domenico was at a brothel with a prostitute but suddenly sirens of an incoming attack in the area.  As everyone evacuates, Domenico sees a scared Filumena who just started at the brothel and is unwilling to leave due to fear.  Domenico tries to get her out and uses his suave style to get through her.

We are then taken back to another time, years later, in which Domenico and Filumena see each other.  Filumena seems to be much more confident and is doing great at the brothel.  Domenico gives her a ride but due to the rain, he chooses to bring her to a rundown building but not for shelter due to the rain but because the two can have passionate sex.

But with each meeting, she falls in love with him but for Domenico, he’s a man with money, focused on business and having sex with other women.  Each time that Filumena hopes that he would stay with her and not leave, he just uses money as a way to convenience her.  May it be giving her a place to live, giving her money to live on and just not wanting to be inconvenienced by any woman.

And as the years pass between the two, Domenico who thinks that Filumena is going to die decides to marry her, because it is her dying wish.  But meanwhile, Domenico has another woman, a woman he works with as his current girlfriend that he intends to marry.

So, Domenico and Filumena get married and when Domenico explains to his girlfriend that once Filumena is dead, that he would resume his relationship with the other girl and marry her, immediately his call is interrupted by Filumena.

It was all a ruse, a ruse to get Domenico to marry her for his last name.  And immediately, Domenico is upset that Filumena lied to her but it is Filumena who unloads on him and explains that he has been stringing her along for so many years, not caring about her feelings but just wanting her to be his mistress.   Now, she wants her revenge.

She explains that all the money that she has given him was to support her three sons (that he never knew about) but the sons weren’t his, but from men that got her pregnant when she was a prostitute.

And now, with them being married, she is going to have her sons live with her.  Domenico is shocked that Filumena committed fraud and immediately he consults his lawyer to annul their marriage due to fraud and wants her out of his house.

The annulment will go through but she leaves one final bombshell for Domenico, of the three kids that she has, one of them is his.  And the reason why she never told him was because if she did tell him back then, he would probably have the baby aborted which she would not let him do.

While Domenico and Filumena’s relationship and friendship appears to be over, Domenico’s conscience begins to get the best of him especially knowing that he may have a son out there.

What will happen to Domenico and Filumena during this tough time?

VIDEO:

I have to admit that I was a bit surprised that “Marriage Italian Style” was given a Blu-ray release but considering it is one of the well-known Vittorio De Sica Sophia Loren films, I can understand why Kino Lorber was released on DVD and Blu-ray.   The film is presented in 1080p (1:85:1).

While it is great to see this film available in HD, I caution those who are expecting pristine picture quality.   You can tell that this print has not aged gracefully through the years and its important to note that similar to other De Sica films at the time, they chose to go with a more economical choice for film than the best quality available to them.

With that being said, there is mild flickering, there are white speckles and dust, a lot of grain, colors are not exactly vibrant and black levels are OK.    While some parts of the film look great and this is probably one of the few films where videophiles can easily debate the use of DNR.   If anything, Kino kept to the original print and not mess with it, so people are getting a film transferred to high definition.

But it’s important to remember that if you want any of these Vittorio De Sica/Sophia Loren films, you either buy the DVD boxset or buy the Blu-ray release individually.  Personally, if you love the film and I do feel it is the better of the three films in the Sophia Loren Award Collection, the Blu-ray release is the way to go.

AUDIO:

“Marriage Italian Style” is presented in Italian Dolby TrueHD 1.0. The lossless monaural track is still clear in dialogue and everything comes quite clear through the center channel. Granted, I did choose to watch the entire film in stereo on all channels for a more immersive soundscape.

I didn’t notice any hissing, pops or crackle and for the most part, soundtrack is what I was expecting from the lossless monaural soundtrack.

Optional English subtitles are included.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Marriage Italian Style” comes with the theatrical trailer (3:41) and the trailers for the three De Sica/Loren films that are available from Kino Lorber.  Also, a stills gallery with 28 images from behind-the-scenes and promotional images as well.

EXTRAS:

“Marriage Italian Style” comes with a slipcase.


As a Vittorio De Sica fan, knowing that many viewer’s exposure of his work are through his neorealist films, let’s step away from that and not focus too much on De Sica’s past work but focus on what he has done in 1960.

Sophia Loren literally became the filmmaker’s muse.  Beginning with “Two Women” in 1960, he would follow up film after film with Loren, “Boccaccio ’70” and “The Condemned of Altona in 1962, his Academy Award winning film “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” (1963) which featured the first major collaboration between De Sica, Loren and Mastroianni.  And to follow-up a year later with “Marriage Italian Style”.

While “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” did win an Oscar and while it was a fun comedy anthology that showcased Loren’s body and sexuality, Loren was more than just a beautiful buxom actress, she was also a talented actress that can dish it out like any major actress out there.  You want her to play sexy, she will play sexy.  You want her to play a woman who has been jilted for nearly 20-years and want to see that frustration, she absolutely delivers in “Marriage Italian Style”.

In fact, this is a very different film than “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow”.  While sex does play a part, this film is not much about the comedy, it actually focus on the emotional drama and toll it takes on Sophia Loren’s character Filumena Marturano. We have seen Loren give a superb performance in De Sica’s “Two Men” but she shines again in “Marriage Italian Style”.

And Marcello Mastroianni, he also delivers in a superb performance as their characters both feed off each other’s anger, stress and passion.  The scene which involves Filumena giving a peace of her mind to Domenico about how she really feels and the fact that she has three sons was quite powerful.  She embodied the character of Filumena and I felt that she was absolutely on fire!

Mastroianni played the convincing role of the suave, wealthy older gentlemen, with the graying highlights and all, he looked the part, he played the part and he delivered!

And I do believe that the film was very much deserving of its two Academy Award nominations as this was the better film compared to “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” when it came to story and performance.

But while I enjoyed “Marriage Italian Style”, it’s important for those who are planning to purchase the Blu-ray to know that this film is not pristine by any means.  In fact, some may find the film unlike any film they see on Blu-ray because of its high level of grain, minor flickering, dust and speckles and so forth.  Yes, the film has been given the 1080p High Definition upgrade but Kino Lorber does not do restorations like other niche companies specializing in cinema.  They take the film elements and give you an HD version of those film elements and suffice to say, because restoration is extremely expensive, not all films that come to Blu-ray are given significant restorations.  Even from the major studios.

As for special features, this one is pretty much barebones.  While “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” contained the Vittorio De Sica documentary, I was hoping there would be some revisiting by Sophia Loren or someone involved with the film.  Also, may there be an audio commentary or something else that would make this release much more attractive to Blu-ray fans.

And this brings me back to the man who is responsible for directing the film, Vittorio De Sica.  Like Fellini, Rosellini, Visconti and Antonioni, De Sica is a legendary filmmaker in my eyes.  While not all De Sica’s films were magnificent hits, the fact is that throughout his oeuvre, he has created a few masterpiece.  Not one, not two…there are quite a few that surprise you with its overall look but performances that really are heartwrenching.

While “Two Women” was a powerful film featuring Sophia Loren, the primary focus of “The Sophia Loren Award Collection” is to feature three major collaborations between De Sica, Loren and Mastroianni.  And for me, this is important because if you want to enjoy “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow”, you must watch “Marriage Italian Style” and “Sunflower” and pretty much, if you enjoy the working relationship between these three talented individuals, it’s worth watching each of these films.   By no means, are each of these films their best work but its a collaboration that remains special for cinema fans and fans of each of these three individuals.

And as De Sica brought out the performances of both Loren and Mastroianni, for me, this was like the Italian equivalent of a William Powell and Myrna Loy or Clark Gable and Myrna Loy ala early ’60s.  They may have not made that many films than their Hollywood counterparts but they did have great chemistry onscreen for these three films presented in the collection.

Overall, while “Marriage Italian Style” is not the best looking film on Blu-ray nor does it contain a lot of special features, it still is an enjoyable film.  So, if you are a big fan of Vittorio De Sica, Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni, “Marriage Italian Style” is worth giving a try!

 

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