6 May 2008 | Bunuel1976
WIFE FOR SALE (Giovanni Grimaldi, 1973) **1/2
The star vehicles of Italian actor Lando Buzzanca, who was at the top during the 1970s in a string of sex comedies, were and still are a staple of late-night Italian TV. Although I was mostly familiar with Buzzanca from his smaller but higher profile roles in such classic Italian films like DIVORCE Italian STYLE (1961) and SEDUCED AND ABANDONED (1964), I am only vaguely aware (i.e. by name only) of those films which sealed his reputation. Starting with a couple of lowbrow spoofs on the James Bond spy extravaganzas in the mid-1960s, he later graduated to the trademark role of a sex-starved and usually cuckolded would-be lothario.
The film under review is only the second of these I've watched myself the other being Lucio Fulci's THE EROTICIST (1972) which has curiously enough (given its limited appeal outside its native country) been recently issued on R1 DVD. Anyway, the title itself, WIFE FOR SALE, gives one some indication of what this film is about: Buzzanca is a small-time Sicilian industrialist who sees an opportunity for breaking into big business but needs to come up with a not insignificant sum of money as collateral in order to seal the deal. The bank which had promised to help finance him in this regard is controlled by a local billionaire playboy (a surprising but welcome turn from French actor Jean-Pierre Cassel who had just come off of Luis Bunuel's THE DISCREET CHARM OF THE BOURGEOISE ) who is looking to complete his long string of female conquests via Buzzanca's own unattainable wife (Rosanna Schiaffino).
The script is fairly intelligent as these things go, maintaining a serio-comic tone throughout with its cynical look at the hedonistic lifestyle of the era (marked by typically gaudy 1970s fashions) and leading to a bittersweet ending. The film is aided a good deal by a bouncy score, while also managing a number of amusing vignettes particularly those involving Buzzanca's efforts to visit his wife behind Cassel's back (including dressing up as a bum with clothes borrowed from one of his employees, and which lands him in jail!).
For the record, this film's director was unknown to me but he seems to have worked a lot with the star (as can be seen from the various trailers included on the Italian DVD of WIFE FOR SALE). Incidentally, I've still got a few more of Buzzanca's vehicles to watch and which I'll hope to get to in due time