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Slideshow

DIVORCE, ITALIAN STYLE

Saturday, July 23
2:45

Thursday, July 28
3:00

Thursday, August 4
2:40

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Italy, 1961
Directed by Pietro Germi
Starring Marcello Mastroianni, Daniela Rocca, Stefania Sandrelli
Screenplay by Ennio De Concini, Pietro Germi, Alfredo Gianetti, Agenore Incrocci
Based on the novel Un delitto d’onore by Giovanni Arpino
35mm. Approx. 104 min.

Problem: cigarette planted in holder, facial tic regularly kicking in, hair slicked back, his mustache as rounded off as a society lady’s eyebrows, his eyelids perpetually at half mast, down at the heels baron Marcello Mastroianni, fed up with plump, fuzzy-lipped wife Daniela Rocca, has eyes only for his passionate teenage cousin Stefania Sandrelli, smoldering away just across the courtyard. Solution: while divorce is an embarrassing impossibility in Sicilian society, and outright murder gets you twenty to life, crimes of “honor” garner a three-to-seven slap on the wrist and admiration from your peers. So obviously it’s time to invite Rocca’s old flame Leopoldo Trieste in for a little fresco touch up, and who knows what else — even as Mastoianni gets out the concealed microphones and tape recorder, Germi’s hilarious satire of Sicilian moors was a smash around the world, cementing Mastroianni’s stardom by highlighting his comedic prowess after the impact of Fellinian angst, winning a Best Comedy award at Cannes, and an Oscar for the Original Screenplay by Germi and the legendary writing team “Age-Scarpelli” (THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE UGLY; SEDUCED AND ABANDONED; MAFIOSO; etc., etc.) plus two other nominations, and for Germi’s directing and Mastrioanni’s acting. All the more ironic that Mastrioanni was not on the original eleven-name wish list for the baron; the first private showing, to film people like Visconti and Francesco Rosi didn't get a single laugh; and the story was originally conceived as intense drama – which sometimes is not really so far from farce.

Reviews

“With DIVORCE, ITALIAN STYLE, Germi gave a new impetus to Italian comedy; he nudged the genre from farce to satire, from the comedy of hysterical overplaying to the wit of underraction. It remains a terrific entertainment, a European corollary to Preston Sturges.”
 – Dave Kehr

Film Forum