Boccaccio '70


3h 18m 1962

Brief Synopsis

An anthology of three adult tales by three leading Italian directors--a billboard photo of a scantily clad, sexy woman comes to life to torment the local censor; a lottery is held in which the prize is to spend the night with a beautiful woman; a wealthy husband spends much of his money on prostitutes.

Film Details

Also Known As
Boccace 70
Release Date
Jan 1962
Premiere Information
New York opening: 26 Jun 1962
Production Company
Cineriz; Concordia Compagnia Cinematografica; Francinex; Gray Films
Distribution Company
Embassy Pictures
Country
France
Location
Italy
Screenplay Information
Based on tales from Il decamerone by Giovanni Boccaccio (1353).

Technical Specs

Duration
3h 18m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor/Eastmancolor)

Synopsis

THE TEMPTATION OF DR. ANTONIO: Dr. Antonio, a self-appointed crusader against vice and immorality in Rome, is outraged when a gigantic poster of a seductive blonde holding a glass of milk is erected on the vacant lot facing his apartment. To placate him the authorities cover the poster with paper, but the covering comes off during a storm, and the obsessed moralist imagines that the giant woman on the poster has come to life. Ignoring his squealing protests, she playfully picks him up, holds him to her bosom, and dances through the streets with voluptuous abandon. He is driven mad by the encounter, and, with the coming of morning the police find him clinging to the top of the billboard. A huge crowd gathers as he is lifted down and carried away to an asylum. THE JOB: Bored with his idle existence, a young Milanese count creates a scandal by consorting with $1000-a-night call girls. Although the news infuriates his German father-in-law, who controls the family funds, his beautiful wife, Pupe, remains calmly indifferent. She tells him that she has made a wager with her father that she can support herself for a year. As preparation for her job, she has visited the count's female companions and learned the secrets of their profession. She then suggests that the count avoid any further notoriety by paying her whenever he feels the need for sexual intimacy. The count agrees and goes to write a check as his wife prepares for bed with tears running down her face. THE RAFFLE: Zoe, a lusty young woman, works with a traveling carnival belonging to her brother-in-law. Each Saturday night in a different village in the Po Valley, she offers herself as the prize of a $5-a-ticket raffle to help support her pregnant sister. One night she falls in love with a handsome stranger, Gaetano, and becomes reluctant to accommodate the latest winner, a meek sexton named Cuspet, who has declined all offers to purchase his ticket. Rather than embarrass the sexton in front of his friends, Zoe covers him with lipstick, gives him all the prize money, and then politely ushers him out of her bedroom. As the proud Cuspet is carried through the streets of the town, Zoe races off to meet Gaetano.

Film Details

Also Known As
Boccace 70
Release Date
Jan 1962
Premiere Information
New York opening: 26 Jun 1962
Production Company
Cineriz; Concordia Compagnia Cinematografica; Francinex; Gray Films
Distribution Company
Embassy Pictures
Country
France
Location
Italy
Screenplay Information
Based on tales from Il decamerone by Giovanni Boccaccio (1353).

Technical Specs

Duration
3h 18m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor/Eastmancolor)

Articles

Great Italian Directors Collection - GREAT ITALIAN DIRECTORS COLLECTION - A 4 disc Set that Includes Michelangelo Antonioni's STORY OF A LOVE AFFAIR and More


Lorber Films' Great Italian Directors Collection lives up to its name, as it includes the intriguing first feature by Michelangelo Antonioni, a portmanteau film with important episodes by Luchino Visconti and Federico Fellini, and one of the better sex farces of the 1960s by the talented Mario Monacelli. Remastered and polished for presentation, the four-disc set is a bounty of riches.

1950's Story of a Love Affair (Cronaca di un amore) is a somber romantic drama that breaks with the Italian neorealist trend. It's a noir murder tale, with a pair of skittish adulterers considering the murder of the rich husband they want out of the way. The almost hallucinatory beauty Lucia Bosé would run away with handsome, unlucky Massimo Girotti, but has grown accustomed to her plush lifestyle with servants and beautiful clothes. An additional cloud of gloom descends over the illicit lovers in the form of a memory -- Girotti's "inconvenient" girlfriend back in their school days met a violent end, and the suspicion persists that her death may not have been accidental.

Story of a Love Affair plays out under bleak skies as the lovers meet in locations reflecting the emptiness of their ambitions, and linking the film to director Antonioni's later existential, experimental ruminations. The show has the feeling of a soured "white telephone" movie from the 1930s, with once-elegant Italians now reduced to guilty materialists. Weirdly, the husband's suspicions initially bring the old lovers together, and then resolve the story without an actual crime ever taking place. But the lovers' guilt is no less acute. Massimo is ready with a gun but is sickened by his decision to use it; Lucia runs into the streets in a panic, surely ruining one of the most stunning dresses of the decade.

Lorber's superior transfer of Story of a Love Affair betters a Region 1 NoShame release from 2005. Some minor contrast flutter is still apparent in the rich B&W images. The two-disc presentation replicates NoShame's extras, all based on interviews from a 2004 re-premiere of the film in Rome. Famed cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno discusses the film's restoration in one featurette, while Identification of a Masterpiece lets the film's assistant director Francesco Maselli and a pair of film critics talk on about Antonioni and the film far too long. Story of a Peculiar Night is a lengthy account of the re-premiere that has a few good moments with the wheelchair-bound, silent Michelangelo Antonioni and the still-elegant Ms. Bosé. It too is padded with too much footage. Fragments of a Love Affair follows the assistant director on a tour of original filming locations. Galleries of stills and poster round out the package.

Twelve years later, Rome's CineCittá has become one of the hottest film centers in the world, and producer Carlo Ponti can put together a 200-minute anthology featuring four mini-features by top Italian directing talent. Make that three mini-features in America, for the opening segment was dropped when Joseph E. Levine imported Boccaccio '70. The American trailer explains that the title refers to what Boccaccio might come up with if he were to make a film in 1970; in other words, it's meaningless.

The episode Renzo e Luciana was dropped for America because it did not feature any big Italian stars. Director Mario Monicelli tackles a realistic working class story about lovers that must marry in secret. The company they both work for forbids this, even though it is entirely logical that nice youngsters like Luciana (Marisa Solinas) and Renzo (Germano Gilloli) will meet in the workplace. We see the pair forced to pretend that they are mere acquaintances, even as Luciana's pushy boss makes unwelcome advances. Things aren't much better at home when dealing with troublesome family members that allow them little privacy. The resolution is similar to Billy Wilder's The Apartment: when amore and lavoro don't mix, people with good hearts will choose Love over a job.

Federico Fellini's Le tentazioni del dottor Antonio is the "½" film in the director's feature count of "8½". Freed from the responsibility of turning out a full-length "masterpiece", the premiere Italian auteur has a fine time lampooning puritan film critics in the person of Dr. Antonio Mazzuolo (Peppino de Filippo), a blue-nose shocked when a huge new billboard promoting milk features a provocative photo of star Anita (Anita Ekberg). Come nightfall, Dr. Antonio experiences an erotic dream in which the billboard comes to life: an amazing colossal Anita pursues him through the city streets, and taunts him with her enormous cleavage. It's as if Fellini had a brainstorm after seeing Jayne Mansfield in The Girl Can't Help It and Allison Hayes in Att ack of the 50-Foot Woman. Adding to Fellini's circus-lke parades of clergymen, boy scouts and construction workers is a delightful, infectious advertising jingle for Milk by Nino Rota : "Bevete più latte / il latte fa bene / il latte conviene / a tutte le età!"

Luchino Visconti's Il lavoro is among the director's more interesting work. Made just before the epic The Leopard, this provocative tale takes place in a single luxury apartment, almost in real time. Beautiful Pupe (Romy Schneider) has been married a year to the indolent former playboy Conte Ottavio (Thomas Milian). The tabloids report that Ottavio has been caught in the company of a score of expensive call girls, a scandal that his lawyers try to neutralize to insure the flow of money from his rich father-in-law. Deeply hurt, but also proud and independent, Pupe decides to find out if her husband really loves her: Contacting the women he's been cavorting with, she discovers the truth about her fairy-tale of a marriage. Ottavio whines and pleads for his straying to be ignored, which prompts Schneider to put him to a special test. Meanwhile, Pupe goes through costume changes as servants bring food, start baths and ride herd on her collection of kittens. Pupe teases the increasingly nervous Ottavio with her body, while revealing several layers of inner disillusion and disappointment. The erotic one-act play conjures an ironic justice worthy of Boccaccio, and as a film about women and marriage, it is both profound and progressive.

That leaves Vittorio De Sica and the producer's spouse Sophia Loren to finish the show with La riffa, a spirited sex farce that pulls a bait 'n' switch game with its erotic content. Carnival girl Zoe (Loren) is elected to be the prize in a very popular raffle. The broad comedy presents common folk as mostly sweet but crude buffoons, and the shapely Loren as just another prize animal in a stockyard fair. Prospective lechers of all shapes and sizes show up to "see the goods". The level of comedy writing can be judged when Loren removes her red blouse so as not to arouse a mad bull. The bull calms down but the assembled gawkers are aroused en masse by the sight of the star's custom-fit lingerie. As one might expect the episode is all tease and no payoff. Ms Loren dances to some cute Rock 'n' Roll and cha-cha riffs, and sings a song called "Money Money Money." De Sica's episode is the least challenging of the four.

The early 1960s saw a steady stream of sex farces starring Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni. Although advertised as racy bedroom comedies, Italian censors saw to it that they remained mostly chaste affairs, at least in terms of nudity or actual sexual situations. American audiences flocked to see Sophia after a sexy photo layout in Look Magazine showed her doing a striptease for Marcello. But most of Loren's films went no further than Church-respectful satire and earthy innuendo.

1966's Casanova '70 is also produced by Ponti but does without Ms. Loren in favor of pairing Marcello Mastroianni with a veritable harem of Italian beauties. The clever screenplay uses the tale of a modern Casanova to present one bed-hopping situation after another, and sometimes concurrently. The censors were loosening up, a trend that Ponti and director Mario Monicelli (Big Deal on Madonna Street) were quick to exploit.

The screenplay's burlesque-like concept keeps womanizer Major Andrea Rossi-Colombotti engaged in amorous action. Andrea fears that normal sexual relations leave him impotent. He can become aroused only when faced with imminent danger. If a girl offers herself to him he flees in shame, but the riskiest situations turn him into a wild man. Andrea relates his bedroom failures and triumphs to a psychiatrist. He flopped with an Indonesian stewardess (Seyna Seyn) but scored with Lolly (Margaret Lee), the wife of his superior officer in NATO. A compliant hotel maid (Rosemary Dexter) just made Andrea nervous, but the chance to make love with an eager partner (Beba Loncar) during a guided museum tour is a big success. Other frustrated or enchanted women include the conventional Noelle (Michèle Mercier), a prostitute whose customers mysteriously die (Moira Orfei) and L'addolorata (Jolanda Modio), a Sicilian fireball that he seduces while her entire knife-wielding family waits just outside the door.

The irrepressible Andrea also wants a serious life companion, and is strongly attracted to two very different women. The treacherous Thelma (Marisa Mell) wants Andrea to murder her possessive, deaf but fabulously wealthy husband; our hero is attracted to the danger but not the crime. Andrea makes an attempt at a non-sexual relationship with the virginal Gigliola (Virna Lisi), who wanted to become a nun but obeyed her family's request to stay at home. The couple fares well for a time, as Andrea respects Gigliola and enjoys a break from the pressures of the amorous imperative. Then, a ravishing circus lion-tamer (Liana Orfei) requests a member of the audience to volunteer to kiss her in the presence of her four ferocious jungle cats... an erotic dare that Andrea cannot refuse!

The colorful comedy cleverly uses the "70" title to reference spicy audience memories of the earlier picture. Mastroianni carries his somewhat silly but enviably active role with great style, and Virna Lisi and Marisa Mell give nuanced performances as the main female stars. The highly polished production features stunning cinematography by Aldo Tonti, who makes the gallery of beautiful women look simply stunning. An added plus is the jazzy, eccentric music score by Armando Trojajoli, an unsung master of the lush Italo Lounge style. Casanova '70 is a bedroom farce with genuine class; the sexy story never feels cheap or exploitative.

Lorber Films' DVD set of the Great Italian Directors Collection gives us the three quality productions in attractive recent transfers. The two color pictures are a pleasure to watch, with bright colors and warm flesh tones. The discs also include original trailers and still galleries. Casanova '70 and Boccaccio '70 are available in separate Blu-ray editions, which look even more attractive.

For more information about Great Italian Directors Collection, visit Kino Lorber.

by Glenn Erickson
Great Italian Directors Collection - Great Italian Directors Collection - A 4 Disc Set That Includes Michelangelo Antonioni's Story Of A Love Affair And More

Great Italian Directors Collection - GREAT ITALIAN DIRECTORS COLLECTION - A 4 disc Set that Includes Michelangelo Antonioni's STORY OF A LOVE AFFAIR and More

Lorber Films' Great Italian Directors Collection lives up to its name, as it includes the intriguing first feature by Michelangelo Antonioni, a portmanteau film with important episodes by Luchino Visconti and Federico Fellini, and one of the better sex farces of the 1960s by the talented Mario Monacelli. Remastered and polished for presentation, the four-disc set is a bounty of riches. 1950's Story of a Love Affair (Cronaca di un amore) is a somber romantic drama that breaks with the Italian neorealist trend. It's a noir murder tale, with a pair of skittish adulterers considering the murder of the rich husband they want out of the way. The almost hallucinatory beauty Lucia Bosé would run away with handsome, unlucky Massimo Girotti, but has grown accustomed to her plush lifestyle with servants and beautiful clothes. An additional cloud of gloom descends over the illicit lovers in the form of a memory -- Girotti's "inconvenient" girlfriend back in their school days met a violent end, and the suspicion persists that her death may not have been accidental. Story of a Love Affair plays out under bleak skies as the lovers meet in locations reflecting the emptiness of their ambitions, and linking the film to director Antonioni's later existential, experimental ruminations. The show has the feeling of a soured "white telephone" movie from the 1930s, with once-elegant Italians now reduced to guilty materialists. Weirdly, the husband's suspicions initially bring the old lovers together, and then resolve the story without an actual crime ever taking place. But the lovers' guilt is no less acute. Massimo is ready with a gun but is sickened by his decision to use it; Lucia runs into the streets in a panic, surely ruining one of the most stunning dresses of the decade. Lorber's superior transfer of Story of a Love Affair betters a Region 1 NoShame release from 2005. Some minor contrast flutter is still apparent in the rich B&W images. The two-disc presentation replicates NoShame's extras, all based on interviews from a 2004 re-premiere of the film in Rome. Famed cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno discusses the film's restoration in one featurette, while Identification of a Masterpiece lets the film's assistant director Francesco Maselli and a pair of film critics talk on about Antonioni and the film far too long. Story of a Peculiar Night is a lengthy account of the re-premiere that has a few good moments with the wheelchair-bound, silent Michelangelo Antonioni and the still-elegant Ms. Bosé. It too is padded with too much footage. Fragments of a Love Affair follows the assistant director on a tour of original filming locations. Galleries of stills and poster round out the package. Twelve years later, Rome's CineCittá has become one of the hottest film centers in the world, and producer Carlo Ponti can put together a 200-minute anthology featuring four mini-features by top Italian directing talent. Make that three mini-features in America, for the opening segment was dropped when Joseph E. Levine imported Boccaccio '70. The American trailer explains that the title refers to what Boccaccio might come up with if he were to make a film in 1970; in other words, it's meaningless. The episode Renzo e Luciana was dropped for America because it did not feature any big Italian stars. Director Mario Monicelli tackles a realistic working class story about lovers that must marry in secret. The company they both work for forbids this, even though it is entirely logical that nice youngsters like Luciana (Marisa Solinas) and Renzo (Germano Gilloli) will meet in the workplace. We see the pair forced to pretend that they are mere acquaintances, even as Luciana's pushy boss makes unwelcome advances. Things aren't much better at home when dealing with troublesome family members that allow them little privacy. The resolution is similar to Billy Wilder's The Apartment: when amore and lavoro don't mix, people with good hearts will choose Love over a job. Federico Fellini's Le tentazioni del dottor Antonio is the "½" film in the director's feature count of "8½". Freed from the responsibility of turning out a full-length "masterpiece", the premiere Italian auteur has a fine time lampooning puritan film critics in the person of Dr. Antonio Mazzuolo (Peppino de Filippo), a blue-nose shocked when a huge new billboard promoting milk features a provocative photo of star Anita (Anita Ekberg). Come nightfall, Dr. Antonio experiences an erotic dream in which the billboard comes to life: an amazing colossal Anita pursues him through the city streets, and taunts him with her enormous cleavage. It's as if Fellini had a brainstorm after seeing Jayne Mansfield in The Girl Can't Help It and Allison Hayes in Att ack of the 50-Foot Woman. Adding to Fellini's circus-lke parades of clergymen, boy scouts and construction workers is a delightful, infectious advertising jingle for Milk by Nino Rota : "Bevete più latte / il latte fa bene / il latte conviene / a tutte le età!" Luchino Visconti's Il lavoro is among the director's more interesting work. Made just before the epic The Leopard, this provocative tale takes place in a single luxury apartment, almost in real time. Beautiful Pupe (Romy Schneider) has been married a year to the indolent former playboy Conte Ottavio (Thomas Milian). The tabloids report that Ottavio has been caught in the company of a score of expensive call girls, a scandal that his lawyers try to neutralize to insure the flow of money from his rich father-in-law. Deeply hurt, but also proud and independent, Pupe decides to find out if her husband really loves her: Contacting the women he's been cavorting with, she discovers the truth about her fairy-tale of a marriage. Ottavio whines and pleads for his straying to be ignored, which prompts Schneider to put him to a special test. Meanwhile, Pupe goes through costume changes as servants bring food, start baths and ride herd on her collection of kittens. Pupe teases the increasingly nervous Ottavio with her body, while revealing several layers of inner disillusion and disappointment. The erotic one-act play conjures an ironic justice worthy of Boccaccio, and as a film about women and marriage, it is both profound and progressive. That leaves Vittorio De Sica and the producer's spouse Sophia Loren to finish the show with La riffa, a spirited sex farce that pulls a bait 'n' switch game with its erotic content. Carnival girl Zoe (Loren) is elected to be the prize in a very popular raffle. The broad comedy presents common folk as mostly sweet but crude buffoons, and the shapely Loren as just another prize animal in a stockyard fair. Prospective lechers of all shapes and sizes show up to "see the goods". The level of comedy writing can be judged when Loren removes her red blouse so as not to arouse a mad bull. The bull calms down but the assembled gawkers are aroused en masse by the sight of the star's custom-fit lingerie. As one might expect the episode is all tease and no payoff. Ms Loren dances to some cute Rock 'n' Roll and cha-cha riffs, and sings a song called "Money Money Money." De Sica's episode is the least challenging of the four. The early 1960s saw a steady stream of sex farces starring Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni. Although advertised as racy bedroom comedies, Italian censors saw to it that they remained mostly chaste affairs, at least in terms of nudity or actual sexual situations. American audiences flocked to see Sophia after a sexy photo layout in Look Magazine showed her doing a striptease for Marcello. But most of Loren's films went no further than Church-respectful satire and earthy innuendo. 1966's Casanova '70 is also produced by Ponti but does without Ms. Loren in favor of pairing Marcello Mastroianni with a veritable harem of Italian beauties. The clever screenplay uses the tale of a modern Casanova to present one bed-hopping situation after another, and sometimes concurrently. The censors were loosening up, a trend that Ponti and director Mario Monicelli (Big Deal on Madonna Street) were quick to exploit. The screenplay's burlesque-like concept keeps womanizer Major Andrea Rossi-Colombotti engaged in amorous action. Andrea fears that normal sexual relations leave him impotent. He can become aroused only when faced with imminent danger. If a girl offers herself to him he flees in shame, but the riskiest situations turn him into a wild man. Andrea relates his bedroom failures and triumphs to a psychiatrist. He flopped with an Indonesian stewardess (Seyna Seyn) but scored with Lolly (Margaret Lee), the wife of his superior officer in NATO. A compliant hotel maid (Rosemary Dexter) just made Andrea nervous, but the chance to make love with an eager partner (Beba Loncar) during a guided museum tour is a big success. Other frustrated or enchanted women include the conventional Noelle (Michèle Mercier), a prostitute whose customers mysteriously die (Moira Orfei) and L'addolorata (Jolanda Modio), a Sicilian fireball that he seduces while her entire knife-wielding family waits just outside the door. The irrepressible Andrea also wants a serious life companion, and is strongly attracted to two very different women. The treacherous Thelma (Marisa Mell) wants Andrea to murder her possessive, deaf but fabulously wealthy husband; our hero is attracted to the danger but not the crime. Andrea makes an attempt at a non-sexual relationship with the virginal Gigliola (Virna Lisi), who wanted to become a nun but obeyed her family's request to stay at home. The couple fares well for a time, as Andrea respects Gigliola and enjoys a break from the pressures of the amorous imperative. Then, a ravishing circus lion-tamer (Liana Orfei) requests a member of the audience to volunteer to kiss her in the presence of her four ferocious jungle cats... an erotic dare that Andrea cannot refuse! The colorful comedy cleverly uses the "70" title to reference spicy audience memories of the earlier picture. Mastroianni carries his somewhat silly but enviably active role with great style, and Virna Lisi and Marisa Mell give nuanced performances as the main female stars. The highly polished production features stunning cinematography by Aldo Tonti, who makes the gallery of beautiful women look simply stunning. An added plus is the jazzy, eccentric music score by Armando Trojajoli, an unsung master of the lush Italo Lounge style. Casanova '70 is a bedroom farce with genuine class; the sexy story never feels cheap or exploitative. Lorber Films' DVD set of the Great Italian Directors Collection gives us the three quality productions in attractive recent transfers. The two color pictures are a pleasure to watch, with bright colors and warm flesh tones. The discs also include original trailers and still galleries. Casanova '70 and Boccaccio '70 are available in separate Blu-ray editions, which look even more attractive. For more information about Great Italian Directors Collection, visit Kino Lorber. by Glenn Erickson

Boccaccio '70 on DVD


We could go on all day about the celebrated talents of European directors from the 1950s and 1960s, who held a much more integral position in international moviemaking than today's European directors enjoy. But as talented as Bergman, Truffaut or Fellini might have been, it really all comes down to sex. They and Malle and De Sica and Rohmer and dozens of other continental directors of their ilk had the creative freedom to cover sexuality in a way Hollywood, with its outdated production code, would not. Their movies could provide world audiences with what was, for Hollywood movies, forbidden fruit. Let's not forget that the first Bergman movies imported into the U.S. played at drive-ins; and when European movies became the favorite of "sophisticated" audiences, many grindhouses quickly became arthouses. Today, hotshot European directors generally leap into the Hollywood fold very quickly. Although there was an occasional foray into English-language moviemaking for the 1950s-1960s generation of top-notch European directors, the thought of one of them making a Hollywood movie in 1963 would have been ridiculous. It would have been like asking Shaq to play while kneeling. Why should they give up the advantage that let them thrive? Just think of all the grief Hollywood vet Billy Wilder went through with 1964's relatively tame adultery comedy, Kiss Me, Stupid.

There's nothing approaching R-rated territory in 1962's Boccaccio '70, though the movie does get about as close as you can to female toplessness without actually including it. Arriving two years after Federico Fellini's worldly La Dolce Vita was an international sensation, this four-part anthology is like the pre-porn Eurosex movie to end all, designed to provide tales in the spirit of Boccaccio's Decameron) for the audience of 1970 (ooh, how futuristic). It boasted famous Italian directors, sex-themed stories, of-the-moment mores and the lusty cleavage of Anita Ekberg and Sophia Loren in glorious widescreen, all brought to America by social-climbing vulgarian Joseph E. Levine. Levine, the subject of the Albert and David Maysles' recommended 1963 documentary Showman, quickly went from importing low-end sword-and-sandal epics to financing such upscale movies as Vittorio De Sica's Two Women, for which Loren nabbed an Oscar®, and Boccaccio '70, an anthology that not only reteamed De Sica and Loren, but featured Fellini's first work since La Dolce Vita, also his first in color.

Alas, the movie was not the landmark it was meant to be. Levine was apparently instrumental in excising Big Deal on Madonna Street director Mario Monicelli's entry, Renzo and Luciana, from the movie's release outside of Italy, which garnered the movie much ill will at the Cannes Film Festival, while critical and popular reaction was decidedly mixed. NoShame's new Boccaccio '70 DVD restores the complete movie for the first time in the United States and, though it's something of a white elephant, like the other multi-director anthologies from the 1960s (Love at Twenty, Spirits of the Dead, etc.) it's a novelty housing minor works from influential directors.

The four stories roughly fall into two camps: realistic drama and intentionally over-the-top comedy. It's no surprise the tales starring brassy Ekberg and Loren are in the intentionally over-the-top camp, while Luchino Visconti's The Job joins Monicelli's opener in more realistic territory. Both dramas focus on young couples: the working-class title characters played by Marisa Solinas and Germano Giglioli in Renzo and Luciana and the aristocrats played by Tomas Milian and Romy Schneider in The Job. Neither is particularly involving. The first chronicles the way in which society keeps its newlyweds from being together. The factory where they work forbids female employees from marrying, so they have to secretly wed; they're poor, so they have to move in with her family, who won't give them any time alone; and then when they get fed up enough to leave their jobs and her family, their new jobs don¿t leave them any time together. Renzo and Luciana is sympathetic and well-played, but there's little plot beyond that. For a movie that is just plain long (208 minutes), The Job tries the patience most. Placed third in sequence and set over one night, it spotlights the confrontation between a count whose call-girl dalliances have just caused a media scandal, and his wife, who is not exactly jealous - it's an aristocratic marriage of economic convenience - but who seeks to gain some measure of psychological revenge over her husband. Although The Job has a poignant ending, in which the wife's scheme privately backfires, I found it hard to care about these pampered characters covered in upper crust.

The comic segments, with their outsized performances by voluptuous leading ladies, are the most memorable in Boccaccio '70. Fellini's The Temptation of Doctor Antonio is a fairly toothless story seemingly inspired by the reactionaries who lashed out against La Dolce Vita. But, hell, it made me laugh. The title character, played with blinkered self-righteousness by Peppino De Filippo, is a meddling Rome moral crusader who gets all bent out of shape by a gigantic milk billboard featuring a provocatively-posed Ekberg. Naturally, he turns out to be a hypocrite who's infatuated with the statuesque blonde, and he's soon overrun by visions of her, culminating in the very funny sequence in which he's harassed by a 50-foot Ekberg, whose cleavage looms over him like the prow of a battleship. The scene in which Ekberg, nearly spilling out of her evening gown, tramps through a miniature city a la Godzilla, is a treat, and the intercutting between Ekberg on the miniature set and De Filippo on the real streets is really well done (like a lot of vintage Italian movies, Boccaccio '70 features poor dialogue dubbing, so my technical expectations for such films are never very high).

Temptation has its fair share of sexual symbolism (buxom Ekberg hyping milk, the crusader launching a phallic-like spear into the despised billboard). But Loren, whose husband Carlo Ponti produced and who gets the closer spot in De Sica's The Raffle, was not to be outdone. Her character, Zoe, runs a carnival shooting galley where only men (or so it seems) shoot projectiles out of rifles in her direction! And then there's the little matter of the runaway bull that stares Zoe down, forcing her to shed the red blouse he's fixated upon. Zoe runs a raffle in every town the carnival goes to, in which a night with her is the prize. The Raffle pretends to be nothing more than a scenic lark, and Loren's earthy performance makes her perfectly convincing as the headstrong knockout who prompts lots of va-va-voom gestures from the men, but who also scares them a bit.

Like NoShame's recent Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow disc, the Boccaccio '70 DVD comes with a booklet reprinting vintage marketing material, in this case the U.S. pressbook, among other things. Disc extras include an extensive photo gallery (great longshots of Ekberg towering over the miniaturized Rome), trailers and, most interestingly, the (incomplete) U.S. main titles. Ironically, these American opening credits and segment dividers are actually much more in the spirit of the movie than the ridiculously dowdy Italian titles.

For more information about Boccaccio '70, visit NoShame Films. To order Boccaccio '70, go to TCM Shopping.

by Paul Sherman

Boccaccio '70 on DVD

We could go on all day about the celebrated talents of European directors from the 1950s and 1960s, who held a much more integral position in international moviemaking than today's European directors enjoy. But as talented as Bergman, Truffaut or Fellini might have been, it really all comes down to sex. They and Malle and De Sica and Rohmer and dozens of other continental directors of their ilk had the creative freedom to cover sexuality in a way Hollywood, with its outdated production code, would not. Their movies could provide world audiences with what was, for Hollywood movies, forbidden fruit. Let's not forget that the first Bergman movies imported into the U.S. played at drive-ins; and when European movies became the favorite of "sophisticated" audiences, many grindhouses quickly became arthouses. Today, hotshot European directors generally leap into the Hollywood fold very quickly. Although there was an occasional foray into English-language moviemaking for the 1950s-1960s generation of top-notch European directors, the thought of one of them making a Hollywood movie in 1963 would have been ridiculous. It would have been like asking Shaq to play while kneeling. Why should they give up the advantage that let them thrive? Just think of all the grief Hollywood vet Billy Wilder went through with 1964's relatively tame adultery comedy, Kiss Me, Stupid. There's nothing approaching R-rated territory in 1962's Boccaccio '70, though the movie does get about as close as you can to female toplessness without actually including it. Arriving two years after Federico Fellini's worldly La Dolce Vita was an international sensation, this four-part anthology is like the pre-porn Eurosex movie to end all, designed to provide tales in the spirit of Boccaccio's Decameron) for the audience of 1970 (ooh, how futuristic). It boasted famous Italian directors, sex-themed stories, of-the-moment mores and the lusty cleavage of Anita Ekberg and Sophia Loren in glorious widescreen, all brought to America by social-climbing vulgarian Joseph E. Levine. Levine, the subject of the Albert and David Maysles' recommended 1963 documentary Showman, quickly went from importing low-end sword-and-sandal epics to financing such upscale movies as Vittorio De Sica's Two Women, for which Loren nabbed an Oscar®, and Boccaccio '70, an anthology that not only reteamed De Sica and Loren, but featured Fellini's first work since La Dolce Vita, also his first in color. Alas, the movie was not the landmark it was meant to be. Levine was apparently instrumental in excising Big Deal on Madonna Street director Mario Monicelli's entry, Renzo and Luciana, from the movie's release outside of Italy, which garnered the movie much ill will at the Cannes Film Festival, while critical and popular reaction was decidedly mixed. NoShame's new Boccaccio '70 DVD restores the complete movie for the first time in the United States and, though it's something of a white elephant, like the other multi-director anthologies from the 1960s (Love at Twenty, Spirits of the Dead, etc.) it's a novelty housing minor works from influential directors. The four stories roughly fall into two camps: realistic drama and intentionally over-the-top comedy. It's no surprise the tales starring brassy Ekberg and Loren are in the intentionally over-the-top camp, while Luchino Visconti's The Job joins Monicelli's opener in more realistic territory. Both dramas focus on young couples: the working-class title characters played by Marisa Solinas and Germano Giglioli in Renzo and Luciana and the aristocrats played by Tomas Milian and Romy Schneider in The Job. Neither is particularly involving. The first chronicles the way in which society keeps its newlyweds from being together. The factory where they work forbids female employees from marrying, so they have to secretly wed; they're poor, so they have to move in with her family, who won't give them any time alone; and then when they get fed up enough to leave their jobs and her family, their new jobs don¿t leave them any time together. Renzo and Luciana is sympathetic and well-played, but there's little plot beyond that. For a movie that is just plain long (208 minutes), The Job tries the patience most. Placed third in sequence and set over one night, it spotlights the confrontation between a count whose call-girl dalliances have just caused a media scandal, and his wife, who is not exactly jealous - it's an aristocratic marriage of economic convenience - but who seeks to gain some measure of psychological revenge over her husband. Although The Job has a poignant ending, in which the wife's scheme privately backfires, I found it hard to care about these pampered characters covered in upper crust. The comic segments, with their outsized performances by voluptuous leading ladies, are the most memorable in Boccaccio '70. Fellini's The Temptation of Doctor Antonio is a fairly toothless story seemingly inspired by the reactionaries who lashed out against La Dolce Vita. But, hell, it made me laugh. The title character, played with blinkered self-righteousness by Peppino De Filippo, is a meddling Rome moral crusader who gets all bent out of shape by a gigantic milk billboard featuring a provocatively-posed Ekberg. Naturally, he turns out to be a hypocrite who's infatuated with the statuesque blonde, and he's soon overrun by visions of her, culminating in the very funny sequence in which he's harassed by a 50-foot Ekberg, whose cleavage looms over him like the prow of a battleship. The scene in which Ekberg, nearly spilling out of her evening gown, tramps through a miniature city a la Godzilla, is a treat, and the intercutting between Ekberg on the miniature set and De Filippo on the real streets is really well done (like a lot of vintage Italian movies, Boccaccio '70 features poor dialogue dubbing, so my technical expectations for such films are never very high). Temptation has its fair share of sexual symbolism (buxom Ekberg hyping milk, the crusader launching a phallic-like spear into the despised billboard). But Loren, whose husband Carlo Ponti produced and who gets the closer spot in De Sica's The Raffle, was not to be outdone. Her character, Zoe, runs a carnival shooting galley where only men (or so it seems) shoot projectiles out of rifles in her direction! And then there's the little matter of the runaway bull that stares Zoe down, forcing her to shed the red blouse he's fixated upon. Zoe runs a raffle in every town the carnival goes to, in which a night with her is the prize. The Raffle pretends to be nothing more than a scenic lark, and Loren's earthy performance makes her perfectly convincing as the headstrong knockout who prompts lots of va-va-voom gestures from the men, but who also scares them a bit. Like NoShame's recent Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow disc, the Boccaccio '70 DVD comes with a booklet reprinting vintage marketing material, in this case the U.S. pressbook, among other things. Disc extras include an extensive photo gallery (great longshots of Ekberg towering over the miniaturized Rome), trailers and, most interestingly, the (incomplete) U.S. main titles. Ironically, these American opening credits and segment dividers are actually much more in the spirit of the movie than the ridiculously dowdy Italian titles. For more information about Boccaccio '70, visit NoShame Films. To order Boccaccio '70, go to TCM Shopping. by Paul Sherman

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Opened in Rome in February 1962 in a 210-min version including four episodes: "Renzo e Lucia," directed by Mario Monicelli; "Le tentazioni di Dottor Antonio"; "Il lavoro"; and "La riffa." Monicelli's episode was omitted outside of Italy. Opened in Paris in August 1962 as Boccace 70; running time: 156 min.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Summer June 26, 1962

Began shooting August 18, 1961.

Sophia Loren appears in the episode "La Riffa."

Released in United States Summer June 26, 1962