Page 8, 29th March 1963

29th March 1963
Page 8
Page 8, 29th March 1963 — When fun isn't funny

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Locations: Khartoum


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When fun isn't funny

NOBODY will expect me to apologise here for not being a connoisseur of Boccaccio's Decameron.

Not that there is any need to check the three tales which cornpose the movie "Boccaccio '70" ("X", Rialto). For they do not even pretend to he more than three sexy stories, as their famous Italian directors. Fellini, Visconti and De Sica think Boccaccio would have written them in 1970.

Like an "X" Certificate, the name of Boccaccio is a label for the kind of entertainment I could not be expected to recommend enthusiastically to readers of the CA'THOLTC HPRALD. Such a situation can be embarrassment to the critic, hut is hardly a deprivation here.

Boccaccio 70 is an inflated show piece. Here are three sexy stories, each starring a famous actress almost ,as celebrated as her director. A certain amount of fun is to be had from each story. And in these days of all-male. often unshaven casts, it is at least a pleasant change to see three beautiful women.

The first story, "The Temptation of Dr. Antonio", is the contribution of Fellini and stars Anita Ekberg, from whom he got such a fascinating performance in La Doke Vita. Here she is a giantnieed poster urging people to the Italian equivalent of Drinka Pinta Milka Day.

The poster is watched to distraction by a highly respectable little doctor. It is to be expected of this kind of film that the respectable Dr. Antonio and his family should become figures of fun. But it isn't very funny fun, for all Fellini's technical fireworks.

* * * Much more stylish and original is Visconti's The Job. It has true beauty for a heroine in Romy Schneider as the German wife of an Italian count (Thomas Millien) who proves to be the centre of a "call-girl" scandal. Not only is the lady (looking like her mother, Magda Schneider) most lovely and magnificently photographed in colour and close-up, but the settings too—as we may expect of Visconti—are sumptuously elegant. And the revenge taken by the countess, who has always wanted to earn her own living, has the authentic savage bitterness associated with Boccaccio.

* * * Much the more commonplace, not to say "hammy'', of the three is Vittorio De Sica's The Raffle. But it stars Sophia Loren who can never be unexciting even in so trite, cynical and distasteful a Neapolitan nonsense as this. There is, again, a touch of right bitterness in the horrible situation of an Italian family so poor they must live on the immoral earnings of the beautiful daughter whose legitimate earnings come from a fairground shooting gallery.


There is mure than a touch of Two Women (the film in which Loren and De Sica won awards) in the woman-hunt by all the ticket holders. But the most shameless touch is the attempt to give the human lottery a happy ending by refunding the timid winner the price of his ticket.

* * * Several recent films suggest that in America at least the heyday of "X"s may be over and a clean new wave of "U" films on the way. It was overdue. A sample of the new "U"s is The Courtship of Eddie's Father ("U", Empire). Like the film. the title is overlong, but it does convey the gist of the action.

When the picture opens on a very appealing small boy (Ronny Howard) a real poil de comfit, breakfasting alone with his father (Glenn Ford). the first impression is inevitably of another divorcedoomed American baby. "Dad, aren't you a husband any more?" he asks, and Dad bravely answers that no, he isn't a husband any more. But it's wrong to leap to conclusions, even about sentimental films. Dad is such an oldfashioned thing as a widower.

Eddie's Mum has died, leaving

only Eddy to protect his Dad from the long queue of predatory females waiting to snap up such a desirable widower with such an irresistible family. First comes a wholly delightful housekeeper, a keeper-out played by Roberta Sherwood somewhere between Shirley Booth and Thelma Ritter. Across the passage lives a neighbour nurse, Elizabeth (Shirley Jones), who is Eddie's choice and therefore heavy favourite. Dad's first pick-up is an attractive redhead, Dolly Daly (Stella Stevens), clearly only for fun. His serious temptation, Rita Behrens (Dina Merrill) is labelled undesirable with signs of villainyforeign name. a brunette fashion expert in dangerously sophisticated colours. —signs almost as conspicuous as those recognised by Eddie when he says that the bad girls in Khartoum all have "skinny eyes and big busts".

Nobody gets diptheria (though Eddie rises to a temperature early on) Out he runs away from Rita and causes crisis enough. There isn't much in the film—except pleasant colour—to suggest the hand of Director Vincente Minnelli. But it is a pleasant, mild family film with a welcome boy star and Glenn Ford, as impeccable as ever.

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