18 April 2006 | Bunuel1976
Giovannona Coscialunga, Disonorata Con Onore (Sergio Martino, 1973) **
Although usually I wouldn't touch such lowbrow comedies with a ten-foot pole in spite of their vintage, ever since I attended the 61st Venice Film Festival in 2004 and met with several second-league (but, as it turned out, still highly enthusiastic) Italian directors, I've been trying to catch up with any of their films which crop up (invariably late at night) on Italian TV practically every week!
This fondly-remembered (but, in retrospect, only very mildly amusing) sex comedy is chiefly notable today for two reasons: it marked a turning point in the careers of both its female star (the half-Maltese Edwige Fenech) and director Martino, both of whom were chiefly known until then for a series of grisly and erotic giallos; and also because its suggestive title which translates roughly to "Joanie Longthighs, Honorably Dishonored" and which was changed at the last minute to emulate the unexpected success of Lina Wertmuller's current film, THE SEDUCTION OF MIMI (1973) whose original title was also similarly long-winded (as would come to be her fashion) got it into hot waters with the censors at the time.
Fenech is, of course, lovely and throws herself enthusiastically into the role of a streetwalker with a heart of gold who is engaged by a shady businessman to pose as his wife in order to seduce a Government minister with a roving eye for other men's wives in return for some official favors; unfortunately, contrary to expectations, her nude scenes are few and far between and never quite as explicit as previous films I've watched her in like TOP SENSATION (1969) and THE STRANGE VICE OF MRS. WARDH (1971). Incidentally, unlike her sometime co-star Barbara Bouchet, even though she was present at the Venice Film Festival I attended in her capacity as co-producer of the Al Pacino/Jeremy Irons version of THE MERCHANT OF VENICE (2004), she did not appear at any of the screenings of her films or the press conferences which preceded them!
Anyway, in this film, which plays like a low-brow, broader version of a Feydeau pochade with a dash of "Pygmalion" thrown in for good measure, Fenech was reteamed with Italian comic (and future TV show host) Pippo Franco after another "celebrated" and controversial sex comedy, QUEL GRAN PEZZO DELLA UBALDA TUTTA NUDA E TUTTA CALDA (1972), which I've also caught up with quite recently and enjoyed slightly more. Ultimately, Vittorio Caprioli (a prolific character actor I "discovered" at the Venice Film Festival) as the womanizing MP and Riccardo Garrone (as Fenech's pimp who's got ideas above his station) come off best. Having said that, the film does manage to amuse in spots and the reckless driver (which turns out to be an escaped blind lunatic) and the final 'pimp duel' sequences are the film's highlights. My local DVD rental store has gotten hold of a couple more of these Italian comedies on DVD and, against my better judgment perhaps, I'll give them a try too one of these days