Italian cultural icon and cinematic great Alberto Sordi (1920-2003) was in peak form when he starred as Antonio Badalamenti, a Sicilian who's become a successful FIAT executive and efficiency expert in Milan and goes on a two-week vacation to his hometown of Catanao in Sicily with blonde northern wife and two little blonde daughters. Laughs and thrills happen when they're welcomed back into Antonio's family and the good graces of Mafia boss Don Vincenzo. It turns out Antonio not only owes the Don a favor for getting him the job up north, but is regarded by the local Cosa Nostra as a piciotto d'onore, a kid who distinguished himself in the ranks (maybe you could loosely translate the phrase "good old boy") and he also happens to be the best marksman the town has ever known. What starts out as a broad comedy and a warm social satire on the Italian south turns more serious and intense as the hero fits right in and his initially standoffish wife starts liking the family and bonding with one female member whose beauty she's able to bring out. Fine writing, direction, and use of locations add up to a seamless film. You're never bored for a minute and most of the time you're hugely entertained, so it makes sense that Mafioso is going to have a revival release in the United States. It's unseen here, not on DVD and would be worth seeing not only for the fun it provides but for the display of Alberto Sordi's range and fluency as an actor. Sordi starred in Fellini's early pair, The White Sheik and I Vitelloni. Andrew Sarris has said Lattuada is "a grossly under-appreciated directorial talent." Il Mafioso shows the writing skills of Marco Ferreri and Rafael Azcona, working with the team known as Age & Scarpelli (Agenore Incrocci and Furio Scarpelli). Their screenplay may be tongue-in-cheek, but it nonetheless provides insight into the Mafia, and the film's picture of Sicilian town life (in wonderfully rich grainy black and white, high style for the time) is vivid and authentic-looking and -feeling. Music by Piero Piccioni, another mainstay of Italian cinema (Il bel Antonio, Salvatore Giuliano, Una vita violenta). Produced by Dino De Laurentis with Antonio Cervi; this can also be seen as a product that reflects the energy and spirit of Italy's postwar "economic miracle" period when so much was exciting culturally in the country cinema, literature, design. Shown in a handsome new print as part of the 2006 New York Film Festival. I would give this a 9 out of ten but the overall plot somehow seems too incongruous.
Comedy / Crime / Drama
Comedy / Crime / Drama
When a good-natured factory supervisor living in Milan with his Northern wife returns to his native Sicily, a decades' old oath forces him to fulfill a nightmarish obligation.
November 27, 2020