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Negli anni '50 Dino Risi fu regista di
farse popolaresche alla Pane, Amore e Fantasia trasferite in città:
Vacanze col Gangster/ Vacation with a Gangster (1951),
Il Viale della Speranza/ The Boulevard of Hope (1953),
Il Segno di Venere/ The Sign of Venus (1955),
Pane, Amore e/ Bread Love and (1955).
Poveri ma Belli/ Poor but Handsome (1957):
schermaglie amorose in un clima
estivo con due giovani bulli che corteggiano una sartina e che, scaricati entrambi da questa, si consolano
l'uno con la sorella dell'altro.
La Nonna Sabella (1957) is an adaptation of Pasquale Festa Campanile's novel.
Belle ma Povere (1957) and Poveri Milionari (1959) are sequels of Poveri ma Belli.
Venezia la Luna e Tu/ Venice the Moon and You (1958)
Negli anni Sessanta Risi aggiorna la
sua comicità ai moduli della commedia di costume e al clima consumista del "boom". Dalla
folla degli italiani medi Risi estrae delle maschere grottesche (affidate ai "mostri sacri" della
commedia italiana, Sordi, Manfredi e Gassman) che attraverso una sequenza di caustiche gag colloca
all'interno di un meccanismo dai risvolti drammatici:
Il Vedovo/ The Widower (1959), il ritratto di un cinico, avido e opportunista (Sordi);
Alberto (Alberto Sordi) arrives in a limo, driven by a chaffeur.
He is immediately attacked by a creditor who has lost his patience.
Alberto smiles and proposes to drive to the bank together so he can pay cash.
At the back he is attacked by another creditor. Alberto reassures both that
he is going to get the cash right away. Inside he meets with the director.
Alberto has applied for the loan of a large sum. The director is kind an
friendly but at the last second he adds that he would like his wife to sign
the papers: Alberto is married to a very rich woman.
Alberto leaves the bank from a secondary exit to avoid the creditors and
The limo is actually his wife's limo, and Alberto's car is a small car,
and his chaffeur is his uncle.
Alberto begs his wife Elvira to sign but his wife has no intention: all of Alberto's projects have failed and she is not willing to lend him a single penny.
Alberto visits his lover who lives with two sisters and a mother.
Her mother realized that Alberto is a scam, but his girlfriend is still in love.
On the way out Alberto grabs the expensive fur that he gifted her and the mother tries in vain to stop him.
Alberto sells it for a quarter of its value in order to have some money.
The pawnbroker tells him that he is just a broker and the real customer is
a rich woman.
Meanwhile, Alberto gets more bad news. His factory builds elevators, designed
by a German engineer, and one elevator just collapsed. The news is in all the
Alberto and his loyal assistant, a marsquis, attend a dinner with his wife
and see that his wife is wearing the fur that Alberto sold for a fraction of
Elvira humiliates him in front of everybody.
She takes a train to visit her mother in Switzerland. Alberto is alerted that
the train fell off a bridge and there are no survivors.
Alberto immediately prepares the funeral and the memorial, and starts behaving
like he is now the owner of all of his wife's assets, even asking his girlfriend
to move into his villa, as well as his uncle and the marquis.
However, his wife shows up alive because she missed that train.
Alberto now plans to kill his wife with help from the German engineer, his uncle and the marquis.
The engineer is asked to sabotage the elevator of his home and then the marquis will push Elvira down the shaft.
However, they screw up even the attempted murder and the one who is pushed down the shaft is Alberto himself.
At his funeral Elvira, her friends, Alberto's creditors and Alberto's associates
march together behind his coffin.
Il Mattatore (1960), il ritratto di un piccolo truffatore (Gassman);
Un Amore a Roma/ Love in Rome (1960);
Una Vita Difficile (1961), il suo film piu` "storico", sceneggiato da Rodolfo Sonego con riferimenti alla storia dell'Italia dalla guerra al boom economico.
It's the portrait of a man who is condemned to failure if he remains loyal to
his ideal of what the meaning of life should be.
The only way out is to destroy any meaning.
A partisan (Silvio) who writes an antifascist newsletter begs an old lady, owner
of a hotel, to let him
sleep in an abandoned building of her farm. He is sick, tired and angry, and
chased by the Germans, but
the old woman kicks him out. Her daughter Elena, however, lets him stay and even kills
a German soldier for him. She becomes
his lover and cures his bronchitis. He feels that she keeps him prisoner.
One day he witnesses as his former antifascist friends carry out a sabotage
and he can't resist: he joins them again.
The war ends and Silvio is hired by a regular newspaper.
When his friend Franco is sent to report from the town near Elena's place, Silvio begs
to go with him. Silvio meets Elena again, but she is engaged to another man,
a rich man. However, she is still in love, and ready to elope with him.
Within minutes Silvio finds himself engaged to a woman who runs away from her
mother to live with him. She moves in and soon realizes that Silvio is very
poor. One day she meets an aristocrat who used to stay at her mother's inn.
The aristocrat invites her to dinner. It's the day of the national referendum
on the monarchy. All the people at the dinner are aristocrats who worship the
king. When the results are announced and the republic wins, only Silvio and
Elena celebrate. When Elena becomes pregnant, Silvio prepares an article that
attacks several tycoons. One of these tycoons offers Silvio a highly paid job
if Silvio withdraws his article. Silvio spends the night sleepless but in the
morning he decides to go ahead and publish the article. He is arrested for
defamation and narrowly escapes prison. Silvio and Elena get married on the
day of an assassination attempt against the leader of the communist party.
Silvio gets involved in the riots that ensue. Arrested, he is condemned to
two years in prison. Elena has to move back to her mother's.
Her mother is ashamed of her.
Silvio writes a novel in prison, "Una Vita Difficile", and still gets in
trouble organizing protests even in prison.
Elena gives birth to his boy, Paolo, and begs in vain Silvio to study and get
Two years later, Silvio is released.
His friend Franco comes to pick him up in an expensive car: he took the job
that Silvio refused and now works for the tycoon who sent Silvio to prison.
Silvio instead wants his old job back, but Elena and her mother make sure that
he doesn't get hired and force him to study for a degree and burn his novel.
He abandons his intellectual life and tries to be the regular husband that
his wife Elena and her mother want.
He fails the exam for the degree and, ashamed, spends the night in a nightclub.
When she comes to pick him up, he insults her and she dumps him.
Silvio rewrites his novel. No publisher wants to publish it because it is
too political. One of them advises him to try with the cinema.
Silvio visits the studios and talks with (real-life) actors and directors.
Nobody listens to him. He meets the marquis who is no longer rich and works
as an actor. The marquis advises him to forget Elena. He hasn't seen her in
two years. He finds her at the beach, and pretends to be a businessman.
She lets him have the child for a day. The child tells him that Elena is
seeing another man. Silvio brings the child back home and then looks for Elena
in the club where she is dancing with her new lover, Carlo.
He spends all his money to disrupt her date and to impress her but only manages
to embarrass himself. She admits that she doesn't love Carlo and considers him
only a solution to her problems. Drunk, Silvio begs her in vain and gets into
a fistfight with Carlo. Elena warns him to never see her again or she'll kill him.
Elena's mother dies. Silvio shows up at the funeral in an expensive car and
tells Elena that he has become the man that her mother wanted.
They walk past the place where they met and Elena cries.
Silvio has accepted Franco's advice and become the
servile underling of a tycoon.
The car, however, is not his: he borrowed it from the boss.
Elena witnesses how the boss treats Silvio like a slave, a humiliating job.
Seeing that Elena feels humiliated too, Silvio throws the boss into the swimming
pool and walks out proud of himself and of her.
Il Sorpasso/ The Easy Life (1962):
Un cinico playboy fannullone si trascina dietro un giovane
timido conosciuto per caso che poco alla volta si lascia sedurre dalla filosofia di "godersi la vita";
dalla spiaggia al night, dall'autostrada a casa del matto, dove un quarantenne milanese si fidanza con sua
figlia adolescente, un viaggio tutto d'un fiato attraverso una vita senza senso fino al fatidico sorpasso in
curva ad alta velocità che causa la morte del ragazzo, dopo appena due giorni di
Un viaggio che costituisce una specie di Kerouak-iano "on the
road" dell'Italia pigra e balneare, un attacco continuo ai codici morali che trova giustificazione nella
filosofia enunciata da Gassman nei rari sprazi di lucidità: infantilismo senile sì, ma anche
coscienza dei falsi miti (coscienza in ultima analisi della vanità di tutte le cose). La funzione
pedagogica di Gassman nei confronti de piccolo borghese frustrato e nevrotico, il vitalismo radicale (quasi
la paura di fermarsi), e il pessimismo di fondo della sua visione sociale segnalano però
un'insicurezza di fondo che rende più inquietante questa nuova maschera totalmente
Il film ebbe un seguito,
Il Successo (1963), diretto da Mauro Morassi: un arrivista maniaco del successo perde moglie e amici pur di riuscire a mantenere una lussuosa villa sulla Costa Smeralda.
La Marcia su Roma [(1962) due qualunquisti partecipano
distrattamente alla Marcia su Roma e riescono rocambolescamente fra gli eroi del Regíme];
I Mostri [(1963), film a episodi:
venti sketch da varietà cinematografica con altrettante macchiette
grottesche in altrettante situazioni-tipo degli anni del "boom"];
Il Giovedì (1963);
I Complessi (1965);
Il Gaucho (1965).
Operazione San Gennaro/ Treasure of San Gennaro (1966) is a farcical comedy, an impeccable hilarious breathtaking clockwork of comic skits.
A nun lands in Napoli: she is actually the girl of a gangster. They travel
with a henchman. The trio visits the church where thousands of faithful are
waiting for the yearly miracle of San Gennaro (his blood liquifies once a year).
The trio visits the treasure, which is worth a fortune.
Then they look for Don Vincenzo, a legendary thief: the neighbors tell them that he moved to... the prison.
He is behind bars, but behaves like a prince. He is respected by both the guards and the convicts.
They ask him for advice on whom to hire for a mysterious heist.
He sends them to Dudu, a playboy whose fiance Concettina is immediately very jealous of the "nun", Maggie, now dressed like a sexy tourist.
They meet the gangster on a yacht and promise to put together a gang for him.
The gangster refuses to tell Dudu what they are planning to steal.
Dudu selects a group of eccentric characters: an old man who is a scientific case (he has the heart on the right), the driver of a hearse, etc.
They all gather at a villa, where the gangster tries in vain to explain the
plan in detail: the Italians are not really interested, and are continuously
interrupted by visitors.
The night of the heist two cars start driving towards the unknown destination:
the three foreigners with Dudu and the four goons hired by Dudu.
Dudu asks to stop for one minute: he has to show up at a wedding for the
photos. Annoyed that it's taking too long, the gangsters walk into the
house, and are welcomed by a large friendly crowd and by Don Vincenzo in person,
released from prison so that he could attend the waiting.
The crowd insists that they join the wedding party, and the gangsters cannot
refuse. In fact, the gangster's henchman eats so much that he dies of it.
They have to postpone the heist for the funeral.
The gangster and Maggie decide to share the target of their heist with Dudu:
they want to steal San Gennaro's treasure. But San Gennaro is the protector
saint of the city, and now Dudu refuses to help.
Maggie tries to seduce him but Dudu at the last second chooses his simple Concettina.
Dudu has second thoughts about the heist: with the money from the heist he could relocate the entire poor neighborhood, while the treasure left in the church is useless.
Dudu asks Don Vincenzo for advice, promising that all the money would remain
in the city because he intends to cheat the Americans of the whole treasure.
Don Vincenzo advises him to ask San Gennaro himself. Dudu and his Italian gang
walk into San Gennaro's church and Dudu explains the dilemma to the statue
of the saint, promising to create a city named San Gennaro just like there are
cities name after other saints. The sun comes out and Dudu interprets it as a sign from the saint.
This time Dudu chooses the night for the heist: the night when the whole city
is glued to the TV set watching the music festival.
They even deliver a TV set to the police station to make sure they too will
be busy watching the festival.
Don Vincenzo is watching it with the prison's guards.
The gangster, Maggie and Dudu have to go through an ordeal
to reach the crypt of the church. Thankfully Dudu comes up with unusual tricks to open walls and avoid electrical barriers.
When they finally arrive at the crypt, they find one of Dudu's goons already
there: he simply waited for the guard to walk outside and sneaked in.
They elope with the loot just in time before the music festival ends.
The plan is that a third car will stop the gangster's car and steal the whole
loot, but instead the third car stops Dudu's car.
Now that they got rid of Dudu's gang, Maggie pulls out a gun and kills the
gangster, so she can have the whole treasure for herself.
The following morning the car is found in the sea, and the police assume that
both occupants are dead and the treasure is at the bottom of the sea.
On top of having lost the treasure, Dudu's mother, having guessed that Dudu was involved, is angry at him and curses him.
Luckily Concettina arrives and is relieved to see that Dudu is home: Concettina
was worried because she has seen... Maggie. Maggie is heading for the airport,
and Concettina was afraid that Dudu would leave with her.
Dudu understands that Maggie is fleeing with the treasure. He tells
Concettina to get him a Vatican car at the airport and tells her to keep it
secret from his mom. Then he
calls urgently Don Vincenzo to stop the airplane, and Don Vincenzo activates
his friends at the airport to cause all sorts of delays.
Dudu drives like a maniac to the airport and finds Maggie dressed like a nun.
Dudu lets her board the plane and runs after the luggage, disguised as a porter,
but they find nothing in the luggage.
Dudu realizes that Maggie is carrying the treasure on her body and finds a
creative way to stop her from boarding the plane just when she is about to step in from the moving stairs.
The passengers see a nun running away on the airport runaway while two men (Dudu and his goon) chase her. Dudu and his goon catch up with her, strip her and take the jewels.
Then Dudu and his goon steal a jeep and drive away but it's the "Follow me" car of the airport and the airplane takes off over their head.
Dudu's goon interprets this as a sign that San Gennaro doesn't want them.
Dudu finds the Vatican car that he asked Concettina to provide and assumes
the priest inside is a henchman... but the priest is really the archbishop.
Dudu, unaware, even complains that the priest doesn't look like a real priest.
The archbishop reveals that his mother (obviously informed by Concettina) has
alerted the Church that Dudu "rescued" the treasure (which of course is not really the truth). The archbishop's car heads for the church of San Gennaro where
a huge crowd has assembled to welcome Dudu, the hero.
L'Ombrellone (1966) e` un affresco della borghesia fra ipocriti e alienati.
Il Tigre (1967): Gassman professionista quarantenne con famiglia innamorato di una "teenager" (il tema de La Voglia Matta di Salce).
Straziami Ma Di Baci Saziami (1968):
Due provinciali, una sartina e un barbiere, non possono
sposarsi perchè il padre di lei è contrario e tentano di suicidarsi sotto un treno; fallito il
tentativo e morto il crudele genitore, una vecchia pettegola semina zizzania finchè lei lascia il
paese e si trasferisce a Roma; Manfredi l'insegue pentito, la cerca da un capo all'altro della città,
ma non la trova; disperato si butta nel Tevere e finalmente la ritrova, ma sposa di un sarto, per giunta
muto; vinta una somma alla lotteria, Manfredi vince la sua reticenza e la convince a sopprimere il marito;
invece nell'attentato questi riacquista voce e udito e per ringraziamento si fa monaco, lasciando via libera
ai due amanti.
Satira del fotoromanzo e della canzonetta passionale di cui sono
imbevuti i giovani di provincia (Lo sceicco bianco di Fellini, colorita operetta di un
candido humor nero.
Vedo Nudo (1969), film a episodi sui tabu` sessuali.
L'angoscia di vivere esplode nelle storie più amare del decennio
successivo, imperniata su mostri più tragicamente umani e sulla crisi della società
In Nome del Popolo Italiano (1971):
Un giudice indaga sulla morte di una drogata e capita sulla
pista di uno speculatore edilizio arrogante e senza scrupoli; l'odio di razza fra il democratico e il fascista
dà luogo a scenette esilaranti ma anche a una morale imbarazzante quando il giudice brucia la
prova dell'innocenza del sospetto perchè lo ha giudicato colpevole di altri crimini contro la
Un duro atto d'accusa contro il malcostume italiano o contro il popolo
inerte, capace di urlare soltanto per la nazionale di calcio.
Mordi e Fuggi [(1973) tre anarchici rapiscono un industriale
opportunista e la sua amante; durante la fuga il professore rivoluzionario e l'evasore fiscale si
fronteggiano con due caratteri e due filosofie di vita opposte].
Nella seconda metà del decennio Risi si rinnova totalmente, passando
nel versante propriamente serio con onesti adattamenti da romanzi che si concentrano sui conflitti fra
giovani e vecchi e su quelli fra uomo e donna, in un clima di mistero e di marcio.
Profumo di Donna/ Scent of a Woman (1974), tratto da Giovanni Arpino, un
Sorpasso più cupo, con Gassman nei panni di un altezzoso ufficiale reso cieco
dall'esplosione di una bomba che si fa accompagnare da un soldatino in un viaggio misterioso, durante il
quale non lesina superbia e arroganza esibendo un'insana smania di vivere; ma all'arrivo rivela il vero
scopo del viaggio, che è quello di suicidarsi in compagnia di un amico, anch'egli cieco; ha la
forza di sparare all'altro, ma non trova poi quella di sparare a sé stesso: il suo ferreo carattere
mostra nel momento supremo la fragilità di un animo dilaniato dall'angoscia].
Anima Persa/ Forbidden Room (1977), di nuovo da un romanzo di Arpino: un ragazzo va a vivere con gli
zii in un antico palazzo veneziano dove in soffitta vive un altro zio, impazzito dopo la morte della
nipotina; ma il giovane scopre che vivono tutti nella menzogna, orridi fantasmi di una giovinezza
La Stanza del Vescovo (1977), dal romanzo di Piero Chiara:
Un Casanova anziano uccide la moglie per ereditarne le
sostanze e sposare la procace, giovane e vedova cognata (Muti), ma, smascherato, si suicida,
sicchè di tutto rimane padrona lei, che si consola con un giovane Casanova giramondo.
Ancor più malinconici e tetri, nell'esplorare i morbidi confini
Primo Amore [(1978) dove un vecchio attore conosce in una casa di riposo
una servetta adolescente e cerca pateticamente di farne una stella (il tema di Das Blaue Engel,
A Star is Born, etc. aggiornato all'era della pornografia e degli ospizi],
Caro Papà [(1979) dove un industriale scopre che il figlio che ha sempre trascurato appartiene a
un gruppo terrorista e, arrabattandosi per cercare di salvare la prossima vittima, non si accorge di essere
Fantasma d'Amore [(1981) l'incubo di un uomo invecchiato in manicomio sognando
l'amante morta di cancro e il suo ricordo è una storia di fantasmi, la storia di un unico fantasma
che gli si presenta continuamente davanti e che potrebbe non essere esistito mai ed essere soltanto un
parto della sua mente malata].
Risi died in 2008.