19 February 2010 | lazarillo
A kind of post-war Italian version of "Candide" with Lando Buzzanca
You can actually tell a lot about the quality of 60's and 70's Italian comedies from their lead male actors. The really low-brow ones that were basically one big fart joke usually featured male comics like Alvaro Vitali and/or Lino Banfi, while the most high-brow, sophisticated ones (which were often not particularly funny) featured actors like Marcello Mastroanni, Ugo Tognazzi, or Vittorio Gassman. Somewhere between these two extremes are the comedies of Lando Buzzanca that were somewhat sophisticated, but still very funny and unpretentious. They are also highly satirical, particularly the films Buzzanca made with Lucio Fulci, and this one.
In this film Buzzanca plays a man whose only real desire in life is to be the perfect, most loyal domestic servant. He starts out in the army at the end of World War II briefly working for a powerful field marshal he never actually meets. Then he is captured by--and serves as a butler for-- both the Nazis and the Americans. In post-war Itay he works for a neo-realist director and his voluptuous actress wife (Femi Benussi doing Silvana Mangano) and briefly embarks on a misguided career as a neo-realist "actor". Then he works for wheel-chair confined elderly clergyman, who insists he take him on weekly constitutionals--right down to the local brothel. There Buzzanca falls for a sympathetic prostitute (Martine Brochard), but things end badly. Next he works for a swinging bisexual couple and the movie briefly turns into a bedroom farce as each of the couple brings home a same-sex partner while Buzzanca himself is trying to bed a sexy communist shopgirl (Erika Blanc). Finally, he finds work with a corrupt industrialist and ends up becoming a bag-man in his corrupt dealings. By coincidence, the industrialist is married to his former prostitute/lover (Brochard). Buzzanca gets back together with her and also dutifully "cures" the couple's cross-eyed, nymphomaniacal, virgin daughter (Leanora Fani), at least of being cross-eyed and a virgin.
Obviously,there's some rich satire here of various targets including the military, the clergy, neo-realists, communists, 60's swingers, corrupt industrialists, cross-eyed nympho virgins, etc. This kind of like Voltaire's "Candide" in that it literally savages EVERYONE, not least of all its own misguided protagonist. It's not quite as laugh-out-loud funny as some of the stuff Buzzanca did with Fulci like "The Eroticist". And it's not quite the hot sex romp you'd expect with Brochard AND Benussi AND Blanc AND Fani in the cast. Still, these four actresses were all in plenty of films in the 70's where they were little more than nice pieces of tail, so it's nice to see them stretch themselves a little in a somewhat more classy movie. As for Buzzanca, he is great as always. This doesn't seem like the kind of film that will ever see a decent English-language DVD release (or even an Italian one), but it's definitely a worthwhile film if you want to try to seek it out.