3 February 2004 | dwingrove
Four Great Ladies, Four So-So Ideas
A real curio, this one. Four famous actresses play themselves in four sketches, each one based (allegedly) on an incident from her own life. Mind you, only a saint or a masochist would have the patience to sit through the first part, directed by producer Alfredo Guarini - where two unknown girls go for screen test at Cinecitta Studios in Rome. Don't worry, this is family entertainment, so no unseemly fumbling about on casting couches for these two.
It does pick up considerably once the divas appear. Alida Valli goes to an engagement party for her humble masseuse, and is taken aback when the other guests treat her 'like a star' - and she herself feels a forbidden attraction to the girl's future husband. Ingrid Bergman engages in a war of nerves with a recalcitrant chicken. (No, I'm not joking!) Isa Miranda drives an injured boy to hospital, and regrets having no children of her own. Anna Magnani rages at a taxi driver who dares charge extra for her toy dog. At the end, she goes onstage and sings. Divinely.
Like any film made up of sketches, Siamo Donne is wildly uneven. The Bergman and Miranda episodes are wafer-thin, and seem overlong even at 15 to 20 minutes. Valli's is beautifully observed, and directed with great sensitivity by Gianni Franciolini. The Magnani sketch may be a one-woman show, but director Luchino Visconti still contrives to show lots of pretty young men posing about in uniform. Good to know some things never change.