Thursday, 3 July 2014

A film review: "Oh, Serafina!" [1976 Italy]

If it's time to indulge in some guilty-pleasure, what better way than revisiting the seventies. The decade - in Europe, America, and almost certainly worldwide, had a pop-culture that is now officially described as 'classy', where artists began to express themselves freely without worrying too much about consequences, and when women demanded their rights returned after millennia of misogyny. These new found freedoms, perhaps, may have also allowed people to momentarily escape from and forget their daily grind, alongside the various atrocities committed around the world at the time by despots and democrats alike. But that's a different topic altogether and let's not go there.

The seventies was also 'the golden age' for nudity in cinema, when even the most conservative of societies made the odd film that dared to reveal a few more centimetres of skin above the allowed norm. However, none of them quite matched the Italians - theirs was after all a 'Roman' thing that has been carried through renaissance and everything else in between. And at a time when its film industry happened to employ actresses with some of the most exquisitely sculpted features ever to appear before camera, it was no wonder that Italian cinema was in a league of its own. Dalila Di Lazzaro (of gems like La ragazza dal pigiama giallo) was one such beauty.

The reason for the waffling about the seventies is because there's really very little to talk about veteran film maker Alberto Lattuada's mundane sex comedy "Oh, Serafina!" - he settled into this ends-meeting genre after commendable experiments in Italian neo-realism. And Dalila Di Lazzaro (alongside the redoubtable Renato Pozzetto) is co-star of the film, where she's also seen at her stunning best.

Dalila Di Lazzaro in Oh, Serafina! Angelica Ippolito in Oh, Serafina!
Angelica Ippolito in Oh, Serafina! Dalila Di Lazzaro in Oh, Serafina!

The film is about Augusto (Renato Pozzetto), a kind-hearted and ass-obsessed young industrialist, who also loves chatting with birds (real birds) in his garden. After he takes over the business from his father, he falls for the derriere of the ever-knickerless Palmira Radice (Angelica Ippolito), a woman working in his packing department. After several attempts at fondling and (implied) sex, she becomes pregnant, and he decides to make her his wife.

Troubles for Augusto start after he discovers that his wife is also a practising 'slut', who wouldn't hesitate sleeping with anyone (anyone heterosexual) to get whatever takes her fancy. She now wants to take control of Augusto's business, and after his fallout with some of the executives at the company, she colludes with staff and the local mayor to get him confined to a mental institution.

That's when he meets wild looking, designer-haired Serafina (Dalila Di Lazzaro) - daughter of a mafioso, who like himself has been consigned to asylum under false accusations. And you guessed it - Serafina's just as allergic to panties as his wife Palmira. He falls in love with her not only for this detail, but also because she's prettier, and equally in love with him!

As suggested, this film is typical escapist fare - it's like a generous helping of deep fried chicken - sickening if eaten too often, but a great little treat once in a while. Dalila may be a delicious treat to watch, but the ingredients that make up the film is certainly not for the health-conscious. DVD Link [PAL]


The Nudity: Angelica Ippolito, Dalila Di Lazzaro, and others
The film's choice of shots and editing throws into question the authenticity of the nude scenes, and one is not sure if some of these may have used a body-double. The film's credits don't mention the complete cast, but there is plenty of female nudity, including some close-up shots, relating to Angelica Ippolito (she's also a talented actress), and the stunning Dalila Di Lazzaro. Two other uncredited actresses appear nude - as a lesbian lover, and nurse of Serafina. Dalila Di Lazzaro nevertheless, appears frontally nude in at least one scene.

Angelica Ippolito, Dalila Di Lazzaro, and others nude in "Oh, Serafina!" (1976, Italy).


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