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Full of Life

Full of Life(1957)

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teaser Full of Life (1957)

In the comedic drama Full of Life (1956), Judy Holliday and Richard Conte play a married couple a few weeks away from having a baby. When their kitchen floor collapses, Conte brings in his Italian-American father, played by Salvatore Baccaloni, to fix it. Baccaloni not only repairs the floor but also builds a large, unnecessary fireplace, all the while attempting to indoctrinate them on Catholicism which he feels they have abandoned.

Driven more by its characters than its plot, Full of Life is probably most notable for being the work of writer John Fante, who adapted his own novel for the screenplay. Fante is best known today for his Depression-era novel Ask the Dust, which was made into a movie by writer-director Robert Towne in 2006 and is one of four Fante novels to center around the fictional character of Arturo Bandini, a struggling writer. While that character does not figure into Full of Life, Conte does play a writer who bears many resemblances to Bandini.

Full of Life was Metropolitan Opera star Salvatore Baccaloni's American film debut. "Amusingly corpulent and mannered," The New York Times said of him. "Judy Holliday, usually outstanding, is decidedly in his shadow as the wife... Conte is excellent as the husband."

Also in the cast is Esther Minciotti, the intrepid Italian-American mother specialist, who played virtually the same mother role in The Undercover Man (1949), House of Strangers (1949), Marty (1955) and The Wrong Man (1956).

Fante's script, with its frank depiction of pregnancy, ran into some trouble with the Production Code Administration. "It plunges into the details of pregnancy with very little discretion and little exercise of good taste," was the verdict. The offending scenes were somewhat toned down but Full of Life remains frank for its time, and for his efforts Fante received a Writers Guild nomination for Best Written American Comedy.

Producer: Fred Kohlmar
Director: Richard Quine
Screenplay: John Fante
Cinematography: Charles Lawton, Jr.
Film Editing: Charles Nelson
Art Direction: William Flannery
Music: George Duning
Cast: Judy Holliday (Emily Rocco), Richard Conte (Nick Rocco), Salvatore Baccaloni (Papa Vittorio Rocco), Esther Minciotti (Mama Pauletta Rocco), Joe De Santis (Father Gondolfo), Silvio Minciotti (Joe Muto).
BW-91m. Letterboxed.

by Jeremy Arnold

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