All Screwed Up


1h 47m 1974

Brief Synopsis

A group of young people from the country form a commune in Milan.

Film Details

Also Known As
Everything's Ready, Nothing Works, Tutto a Posto e Niente In Ordine
MPAA Rating
Release Date
1974

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 47m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)

Synopsis

A group of young people from the country form a commune in Milan.

Film Details

Also Known As
Everything's Ready, Nothing Works, Tutto a Posto e Niente In Ordine
MPAA Rating
Release Date
1974

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 47m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)

Articles

All Screwed Up - ALL SCREWED UP - A 1974 Italian Satire That Skewers the Illusion of Upward Mobility


The reputation of Lina Wertmüller, the first female filmmaker to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Director, rose in the seventies with a series of energetic, brassy social satires that divided international film critics, and it declined almost as quickly as it ascended. She spoofs social politics, cultural clichés, class conflict, and the battle of the sexes in films that play like live action political cartoons. In the seventies film culture of serious political and social commentary and cinematic statements, she approached her subjects with a more slapstick approach, offering broadly drawn characters, comically exaggerated situations, and points made in punchlines rather than political debate.

All Screwed Up (1974), Wertmüller's fifth feature film, is not exactly an exception but it is different in some defining ways. Where most of her films are built on vivid personalities (usually played by Giancarlo Giannini), this is an ensemble piece with multiple characters and stories. The cast is filled by young, mostly unknown performers and the script is not driven by plot or even character, but rather a series of snapshots of life in Milan as experienced by new arrivals, freshly arrived to the big industrial city from the rural south and hustling to find their place in the new world of opportunity. It's a social portrait via a series of sketches, many of them comic, with an eye-opening perspective on working life and urban culture in seventies Italy.

Carletto (Nino Bignamini) and Gigi (Luigi Diberti) are country boys who arrive in Milan with their belongings tied up in makeshift luggage, wearing clothes and agape expressions that mark them as rubes in the big city. They run into a kindred spirit, a big-eyed country girl named Adelina (Sara Rapisarda) in tears after her cousin fails to meet her at the train station, and eventually they all move in together with a group of more urbanized women in a big, dumpy penthouse apartment in an old, run down tenement building in the middle of the city, a slice of the rural world surrounded by modern high rise apartments. It's a "commune of workers," explains Biki (Giuliana Calandra), the entrepreneur behind the money-saving plan, but this is less a co-operative than an investment for Biki and her friends, who charge the rest of the boarders for everything from coffee to laundry to TV privileges. They are capitalists with a la carte pricing for their working-class boarders.

The varied career paths of the characters -- hard-working romantic Carletto trades up jobs in hopes of making enough to support a wife and family on his own, macho womanizer Gigi moves sideways and joins a gang of thieves, Adelina juggles multiple jobs and joins forces with Biki while Carletto woos her, and sad sack buddy Sante (Renato Rotondo) wins the girl of his dreams, city girl Mariuccia (Lina Polito), and quickly becomes an exhausted, overworked, desperate father (the absurd fertility of this couple becomes a running joke with a dark punchline) -- offers a vast canvas of working class life in a bustling city. Between narrative scenes are witty comic snapshots and montages of urban life and work. When Carletto and Gigi land a job in a slaughterhouse, Wertmüller sets the systematic butchering of cattle carcasses to music as an industrial ballet: Afternoon of Animal Rendered into Consumer Product. A day out at a skating rink becomes a lighthearted interlude between the hustling and the hard work, complete with a little innocent romance. The boys join in solidarity when strikers march by, even though they have no idea what this strike is all about. And Wertmüller choreographs the bustle of a huge industrial kitchen with a crazed precision that suggests the organized chaos of a regimented factory on the verge to racing out of control.

All Screwed Up, originally titled Tutto a posto e niente in ordine (which translates to "Everything Ready, Nothing Works"), was poorly reviewed on it initial release. Today it looks like a more compassionate and ambivalent piece of social satire and political commentary than her more aggressively pointed films starring Giannini. While these characters are naïve, Wertmüller doesn't ridicule them so much as acknowledge their naïveté and observe their rapid learning curve. There's a spirit of camaraderie and strangers and co-workers are, if not always generous, at least not predatory, and at their best (such as a protest to stop the demolition of their home) they pull together in common cause. She doesn't need to pile on humiliation because it's hard enough just to scrape by, and without the cartoonish exaggeration of comic complications, their precarious situation gives their experience a resonance that is hard to ignore. It's not the individuals who are mercenary, it's the system, which makes the struggle more poignant.

The story of Sicilians moving to the industrial cities of northern Italy in search of jobs and a better life, and the inevitable culture clash and sense of dislocation, was a common theme to Italian cinema after the war, from films as varied as Luchino Visconti's Rocco and His Brothers (1960) and Alberto Lattuada's Mafioso (1962). Wertmüller's 1974 film is a low-key satire, built around a series of situations that play like open-ended sketches, one leading to the next. There are no big punchlines here, just small-scale gags and humorous observations built as much on character as on situation, and she offers neither happy ending nor tragedy, merely a portrait of lives always on the edge of desperation, working so hard to stay even that they never get anywhere. It's clear that Wertmüller likes her characters and I appreciate that she doesn't pity them but rather respects their capacity to endure and go on in the face of disappointment. Next to the flamboyant political and sexual satires that made her reputation, the modest All Screwed Up actually ages quite well, delivering a snapshot of working class life and social culture in early 1970s Milan, and a satire of urban capitalism and consumer society that is as timely today as it was in 1974.

Kino releases the film as a single Blu-ray or in a DVD three-disc box set along with The Seduction of Mimi and Love and Anarchy. It comes from a preserved rather than restored print and looks just fine, if never stellar. The color is good and the clarity decent, given that much of the film was shot on location and there is a somewhat scruffy quality to some scenes. In Italian with English subtitles, mono sound, and no supplements beyond a gallery of stills.

For more information about All Screwed Up, visit Kino Lorber. To order All Screwed Up, go to TCM Shopping.

by Sean Axmaker
All Screwed Up - All Screwed Up - A 1974 Italian Satire That Skewers The Illusion Of Upward Mobility

All Screwed Up - ALL SCREWED UP - A 1974 Italian Satire That Skewers the Illusion of Upward Mobility

The reputation of Lina Wertmüller, the first female filmmaker to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Director, rose in the seventies with a series of energetic, brassy social satires that divided international film critics, and it declined almost as quickly as it ascended. She spoofs social politics, cultural clichés, class conflict, and the battle of the sexes in films that play like live action political cartoons. In the seventies film culture of serious political and social commentary and cinematic statements, she approached her subjects with a more slapstick approach, offering broadly drawn characters, comically exaggerated situations, and points made in punchlines rather than political debate. All Screwed Up (1974), Wertmüller's fifth feature film, is not exactly an exception but it is different in some defining ways. Where most of her films are built on vivid personalities (usually played by Giancarlo Giannini), this is an ensemble piece with multiple characters and stories. The cast is filled by young, mostly unknown performers and the script is not driven by plot or even character, but rather a series of snapshots of life in Milan as experienced by new arrivals, freshly arrived to the big industrial city from the rural south and hustling to find their place in the new world of opportunity. It's a social portrait via a series of sketches, many of them comic, with an eye-opening perspective on working life and urban culture in seventies Italy. Carletto (Nino Bignamini) and Gigi (Luigi Diberti) are country boys who arrive in Milan with their belongings tied up in makeshift luggage, wearing clothes and agape expressions that mark them as rubes in the big city. They run into a kindred spirit, a big-eyed country girl named Adelina (Sara Rapisarda) in tears after her cousin fails to meet her at the train station, and eventually they all move in together with a group of more urbanized women in a big, dumpy penthouse apartment in an old, run down tenement building in the middle of the city, a slice of the rural world surrounded by modern high rise apartments. It's a "commune of workers," explains Biki (Giuliana Calandra), the entrepreneur behind the money-saving plan, but this is less a co-operative than an investment for Biki and her friends, who charge the rest of the boarders for everything from coffee to laundry to TV privileges. They are capitalists with a la carte pricing for their working-class boarders. The varied career paths of the characters -- hard-working romantic Carletto trades up jobs in hopes of making enough to support a wife and family on his own, macho womanizer Gigi moves sideways and joins a gang of thieves, Adelina juggles multiple jobs and joins forces with Biki while Carletto woos her, and sad sack buddy Sante (Renato Rotondo) wins the girl of his dreams, city girl Mariuccia (Lina Polito), and quickly becomes an exhausted, overworked, desperate father (the absurd fertility of this couple becomes a running joke with a dark punchline) -- offers a vast canvas of working class life in a bustling city. Between narrative scenes are witty comic snapshots and montages of urban life and work. When Carletto and Gigi land a job in a slaughterhouse, Wertmüller sets the systematic butchering of cattle carcasses to music as an industrial ballet: Afternoon of Animal Rendered into Consumer Product. A day out at a skating rink becomes a lighthearted interlude between the hustling and the hard work, complete with a little innocent romance. The boys join in solidarity when strikers march by, even though they have no idea what this strike is all about. And Wertmüller choreographs the bustle of a huge industrial kitchen with a crazed precision that suggests the organized chaos of a regimented factory on the verge to racing out of control. All Screwed Up, originally titled Tutto a posto e niente in ordine (which translates to "Everything Ready, Nothing Works"), was poorly reviewed on it initial release. Today it looks like a more compassionate and ambivalent piece of social satire and political commentary than her more aggressively pointed films starring Giannini. While these characters are naïve, Wertmüller doesn't ridicule them so much as acknowledge their naïveté and observe their rapid learning curve. There's a spirit of camaraderie and strangers and co-workers are, if not always generous, at least not predatory, and at their best (such as a protest to stop the demolition of their home) they pull together in common cause. She doesn't need to pile on humiliation because it's hard enough just to scrape by, and without the cartoonish exaggeration of comic complications, their precarious situation gives their experience a resonance that is hard to ignore. It's not the individuals who are mercenary, it's the system, which makes the struggle more poignant. The story of Sicilians moving to the industrial cities of northern Italy in search of jobs and a better life, and the inevitable culture clash and sense of dislocation, was a common theme to Italian cinema after the war, from films as varied as Luchino Visconti's Rocco and His Brothers (1960) and Alberto Lattuada's Mafioso (1962). Wertmüller's 1974 film is a low-key satire, built around a series of situations that play like open-ended sketches, one leading to the next. There are no big punchlines here, just small-scale gags and humorous observations built as much on character as on situation, and she offers neither happy ending nor tragedy, merely a portrait of lives always on the edge of desperation, working so hard to stay even that they never get anywhere. It's clear that Wertmüller likes her characters and I appreciate that she doesn't pity them but rather respects their capacity to endure and go on in the face of disappointment. Next to the flamboyant political and sexual satires that made her reputation, the modest All Screwed Up actually ages quite well, delivering a snapshot of working class life and social culture in early 1970s Milan, and a satire of urban capitalism and consumer society that is as timely today as it was in 1974. Kino releases the film as a single Blu-ray or in a DVD three-disc box set along with The Seduction of Mimi and Love and Anarchy. It comes from a preserved rather than restored print and looks just fine, if never stellar. The color is good and the clarity decent, given that much of the film was shot on location and there is a somewhat scruffy quality to some scenes. In Italian with English subtitles, mono sound, and no supplements beyond a gallery of stills. For more information about All Screwed Up, visit Kino Lorber. To order All Screwed Up, go to TCM Shopping. by Sean Axmaker

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1974

Released in United States 1974