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Marriage Italian Style(1964)
A woman who's had an ongoing affair with her lover for twenty years, feigns a serious illness to get him to marry her after finding out that he's fallen for a younger woman.
For more about Marriage Italian Style and the Marriage Italian Style Blu-ray release, see Marriage Italian Style Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on May 22, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Sophia Loren, Marcello Mastroianni, Aldo Puglisi, Tecla Scarano, Marilů Tolo, Gianni Ridolfi
Director: Vittorio De Sica
» See full cast & crew
Marriage Italian Style Blu-ray Review
Loren, Mastroianni, and De Sica team up again for a romantic comedy, Italian style.
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, May 22, 2011
You might call Marcello Mastroianni and Sophia Loren the Tracy and Hepburn of Italian cinema. (If—and how do I put this politely?—Hepburn had more sex appeal.) The two style icons made a total of thirteen films together, frequently playing off of one another as prototypical male and archetypal female. They personified the battle of the sexes. Loren was—and is, at 77—the curvy, fertile-looking embodiment of womanly sexuality. And as she once said of her co-star, "Marcello is a man who thinks like a man, talks like a man—is a man! He has so much magnetism, he brings out the very soul in a woman." A few of the pair's best films were made by the famed Vittorio De Sica, who rose to prominence directing socially conscious neo-realist films in the post-war reconstruction era, and who turned increasingly to comedy as he got older and Italy got richer. The three collaborators had a massive international success in 1963 with Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow—which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film— and they followed this up with Marriage Italian Style, a comedic drama about the highs and lows of a lifelong romance.
The story of Marriage Italian Style was already familiar to Italian audiences in 1964, as the film is based on the popular play Filumena Marturano, by Eduardo De Filippo, which Filippo himself had adapted for the screen in 1950. Loren plays the titular role of Filumena, a woman scorned for twenty years by a wealthy businessman, Domenico (Mastroianni), who rescues her from prostitution only to turn her into a longsuffering household servant. When the film opens, Filumena is lying on her deathbed, pale and exhausted, and Domenico, wedding planning with his much younger bride-to-be, is called in to pay his final respects. As he thinks of the times they spent together, the film flashes back two decades to the wartime brothel where the two first met. Here, Filumena is only seventeen and, ashamed of the profession she's recently fallen into, refuses to leave the whorehouse during an air raid. She doesn't want to be seen. When they randomly meet again, after the war, Filumena has blossomed into a curvaceous, outspoken woman, a fire-haired temptress who turns heads when she walks down the street. Domenico, a known womanizer, starts a relationship with her, and even gives her a flat in an apartment building he owns, but their intimacy is one-sided. She loves him—he's her rescuer, after all—but he's only in it for the sex. When Domenico finally takes her to meet his mother, Filumena expects he's about to make an honest woman out of her. Instead, she's put up in the maid's quarters and expected to keep the house in order, with none of the social benefits of being a bonafide wife.
And this leads us back to the present, where Domenico, thinking Filumena is about to die any second, agrees to marry her—mostly out of pity. But, of course, the trick's on him! Now married, legally and in the eyes of the church, Filumena rises from her supposed deathbed—fit as a fiddle—and takes real control of the house. It's a comedic situation, and De Sica wrangles some good laughs out of it, but the sensibility of the humor is more mature, rooted in emotions that—as exaggerated as they sometimes are—feel real and well established. This isn't a lightweight rom-com; it's more of a melodrama that happens to be very funny. And it is funny. Loren and Mastroianni go head to head in some sharp-barbed verbal sparring matches, and when Filumena finally gets the upper hand in their relationship, she isn't about to back down, even when Domenico's lawyer discovers that the sham sickness is grounds for annulment. Filumena has an ace up her sleeve: she secretly has three children, whom she's been supporting all these years, and one of them—maybe—is Dominico's. The inveterate bachelor, now middle aged himself, grows obsessed with the idea that he has fathered a son, and feverishly sets out to determine which of the three young men—one a mechanic, one a glove salesmen, one a scholar—should be the recipient of his inheritance.
If the first part of the film explores tempestuous, one-sided love, the last half is about the loss of youth and other sacrifices of motherhood. The character of Filumena ages twenty-two years throughout the picture—from waif to lingerie-wearing siren to noble matron—and Loren really shows her dramatic range, evincing an entire lifetime of lost innocence and dashed hopes. Loren is frequently called "the Italian Marilyn Monroe," and while that comparison is accurate in terms of their mutual status as international sex symbols, Loren has always seemed more inherently talented as an actress, where Monroe was, as director John Huston put it, "only Marilyn." Yes, Loren has her share of va-va-voom moments here— strutting down the street in a low-cut dress, standing around the brothel wearing next to nothing—but more than anything else, her character arouses our sympathy. Mastroianni gets some credit for this as well, simply because he's so good at playing a total tool that we can't help but feel sorry for Filumena. Stringing his mistress along for years, Dominico really is heartless and cruel, so much so that his eventual redemption is perhaps beyond belief. Still, Marriage Italian Style is, at its core, a comedy, so a happy, love conquers all ending is inevitable.
Marriage Italian Style Blu-ray, Video Quality
The picture quality of a movie on Blu-ray is directly proportionate to the state of the source materials, the amount of time/money put into restoring the print, and the fidelity with which the film is transferred into digital form. While Kino-Lorber's new release of Marriage Italian Style has no problems with that last point—the 1080p/AVC transfer has no outstanding compression or encode issues—deficiencies in the first two items define the film's Blu-ray debut. Kino probably used the best print available to them, but the image hasn't aged well. Along with the usual white specks—which usually come all at once in droves—the picture occasionally suffers from some strong color fluctuations. Within single shots, the hues will shift from cooler to warmer and back again, often multiple times. This is caused by the degradation of the print, not a faulty transfer, but it does point out the fact that little has been done to restore the film in any way. Black levels also have a tendency to look slightly washed out and reddish at times. Still, the film is a pleasure to watch in high definition, warts and all. Even though sharpness too is variable—some scenes are quite crisp and others look noticeably muddier—clarity gets a significant all-around boost from standard definition editions. It should also be noted that neither DNR nor edge enhancement make an appearance. Could the film look better? Absolutely, but it would require a major restorative overhaul and you might be waiting a long time for that to happen. There's no real reason not to enjoy this beautiful film right now.
Do note that the 1.85:1 image has been slightly windowboxed, presumably to prevent overscan.
Marriage Italian Style Blu-ray, Audio Quality
As with Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, Kino-Lorber has given Marriage Italian Style a true-to-source Dolby TrueHD 1.0 track. Obviously, given the limitations of the recording process and low-budget sound design at the time, you shouldn't expect miracles from this mono mix, but for the most part, the film—which, overall, is very quiet—sounds wonderful. Dialogue isn't quite as clear as what you'd hear in a more contemporary film, but everything is intelligible at least, with no hissing, pops, or drop-outs. And despite a rather squashed dynamic range, Armando Trovajoli's score has a nice presence, and lacks the tinny high-end you sometimes expect from 1960s films. No substantive complaints here. The disc includes optional English subtitles.
Marriage Italian Style Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Marriage Italian Style Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
For their second collaboration together, De Sica, Loren, and Mastroianni made an already established Italian classic even better. Marriage Italian Style is a battle of the sexes that's sexy, wonderfully acted, and spans the gamut of emotions. Sure, it's a total melodrama, there's no doubt about that, but it's never syrupy, and besides—Mastroianni's tyrannical character keeps the sweetness in check. Kino-Lorber's Blu-ray is sourced from a less- than-pristine print, and there are no special features to speak of, but Loren fans and followers of Italian cinema in general should consider this a must- have release. Highly recommended.
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Marriage Italian Style Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The Silver Screen: Marriage Italian Style - May 17, 2011
This week Kino is releasing three remastered films on Blu-ray starring Sophia Loren, all of which are international classics. Columnist Robert Siegel covers the first of three, "Marriage Italian Style," with a history of the production and release of a film the ...
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