Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Mariangela Melato & co in "Attenti al Buffone" [1975 Italy]

Writer and director Alberto Bevilacqua uses dark humour to highlight human frailties and the corrupting influence of power in the film, "Attenti al Buffone" [Eng. Title: Eye of the Cat]. The time around which this was made (1974-75), there was a lot of political upheaval in Italy and the world over, inevitably reflecting in its cinema. It may not have the mighty rage and despair of Pier Paolo Pasolini's "Salo o le 120 giornate di Sodoma" which also came out the same year, but it raises similar questions, and the film's chief villain Cesare would easily find himself in good company among the 'Duke' and 'President' from Salo.

Marcello, a musician returns home from a tour to find his wife Giulia and the kids have disappeared and the house a wreck. He will soon learn that Giulia had been 'persuaded' by Cesare, a powerful man who made his name during fascist rule, to have the marriage annulled, and marry him instead. Marcello, instead of rebelling against the outrage, goes with it - hoping that Giulia would of her own, change her mind. But it soon becomes clear Cesare has a personal score to settle with Marcello - and wants to truly defeat him. He humiliates Marcello repeatedly - on one occasion, bragging about having 'bought' his family, "I've taken possession of the only true harmony that you managed to compose - it was your masterpiece". Marcello is also required to fake a reason to church for the annulment - and claim he is impotent. The conversation between him and the church clerk about the matter is one of the more interesting passages of play, full of satire and wit. Giulia on the other hand seems to have had an unpleasant past, possibly working the streets and often being molested before meeting Marcello, who decides to marry her. She loves Marcello, but wants him to let her go so she could live by her instincts. The film becomes an ethical battle between Marcello with his high morals, and the vile 'Ras' Cesare, one that Marcello 'the jester' wins.

The only other film I've seen of Bevilacqua to date is his earlier film, "La Califfa". Among the two, "Attenti al Buffone" is the superior one, notwithstanding the classy presence of Romy Schneider in the latter. The direction, the screenplay (which also won a David), and the fabulous soundtrack of Ennio Morricone work very well this time. And besides, you have another classy actress appearing in this film as well - signora tutti italiani Mariangela Melato, who plays Giulia. My DVD is a fairly recent edition, digitally remastered from negative, and the colours and sound quality are pretty good. Recommended Viewing..!

Amazon DVD Link

Compilation: Mariangela Melato, Erika Blanc, Loredana Bertè, and Cristina Gaioni

Mariangela Melato, Erika Blanc, Loredana Berte, and Cristina Gaioni in Attenti al Buffone

Scene Guide:
  • No nudity - a brief look-back at how Marcello met Giulia.
  • Giulia is commanded by Cesare to strip naked. When she refuses, an angry Cesare rips her clothes off, but is soon gladdened to see she had shaved her nether regions, just as he had asked her to. "...just like a child - you see, we're both alike and our vulgarity, sublime - it'll be like doing it for the first time."
  • His enthusiasm is however short-lived as Giulia walks off to spend the night with husband Marcello instead, who'd decided to pitch tent in Cesare's attic until the annulment formalities are finished (what the..?!). She asks him to treat her as a whore that she is, but is admonished by Marcello. While a body double was used for the previous nude scene, Mariangela Melato bares it all here, even giving us a brief frontal flash, which hardly ever happens - comfortable with Nino Manfredi (Marcello) with whom she'd worked before, but not so with Eli Wallach (Cesare), it seems..!
  • An orgy organised to mourn a dead friend - true Etruscan style. All goes well for a while as the three women are shared around by Cesare and his friends. The bare bottomed girl with a French accent is Erika Blanc, the totally naked one on the staircase is Cristina Gaioni, and the other naked girl sitting on a guy's shoulder is Loredana Bertè - a popular singer during her day - Sei Bellissima..!
  • The trouble starts when one of the guys demands Cesare share his woman Giulia too just like the rest - she had retired to her quarters. Cesare pleads her to restore his dignity by agreeing to have sex with his friends. He considers it shouldn't be too difficult because she'd already been around with other 'pigs and dogs' - and these are after all his friends..! :)


No comments:

Post a Comment