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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

MAFIOSO (1962)

The great Alberto Sordi stars in this blackest of comedies as a Milan factory manager who takes his chic, Northern wife & blond girls on a long-deferred vacation to his hometown in Sicily. While his new family meets, greets & faces off with the old family & the old ways, Sordi is being sized up by the local mob. Is the man who left home and ‘made good’ still a man of honor? This lethally funny (make that lethal & funny) story has little in common with typical Hollywood mob pics. (John Huston’s eye-popping adaptation of Richard Condon’s PRIZZI’S HONOR/’85 gets near its startling wavelength.) It has a fine, sharp eye for cultural clashes and Lattuada’s helming pulls landscape, character & narrative together in a manner that brings Budd Boetticher’s Westerns to mind. But Lattuada’s great achievement stems from avoiding the all but inescapable romanticism that pervades even the toughest of Hollywood mob tales. There’s no easy identification with thuggery or the kinetic appeal of violence, no sentimental asides or dramatically broken oaths of loyalty; just calculation, crime, comic monstrosities and queasy choices.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: There is no Garbo! There is no Dietrich! There is only Louise Brooks! – 1955, Henri Langlois, Founder of the Cinémathèque Française (A ridiculous overstatement, no doubt, but those who know Louise Brooks’ C.V. will see the point.)

There is no GODFATHER! There is no THE SOPRANOS! There is only MAFIOSO! - 2010, MAKSQUIBS, Hack DVD Blogger (A ridiculous overstatement, no doubt, but those who know Alberto Lattuada’s masterpiece will see the point.)

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