Pietro Germi’s follow-up to DIVORCE ITALIAN STYLE/’61 hasn’t that film’s iconic title or its iconic international star (Marcello Mastroianni), but this Sicilian-set, sunbaked Black Comedy is every bit as brutal, frank & hilarious at dissecting society. This time, the problem isn’t getting out of marriage, but getting in one. Specifically, an up-and-coming family with enough daughters to tempt a likely suitor into engaging one sibling and impregnating another. With the family honor at stake, Saro Urzi, magnificent as the combustible Papa, works up an ever more complicated plan to corral all the wounded parties into place. It ain’t gonna be pretty. Germi’s comedy often has a near tragic edge to it, painted in broad, but specific strokes that keep his cast from turning into puppet-like caricatures; everyone stays all flesh & blood. With the filmmaking technique to bring off multiple self-serving POVs he reveals gaspingly funny humanity with deft camera moves (especially on interiors) and sharp editing that represent Italian cinema comedy at its peak.
DOUBLE-BILL: So many great Italian Social Comedies of the ‘50s & ‘60s. From Vittorio De Sica & Alberto Lattuada to Mario Monicelli & Dino Risi, with Ettore Scola doing his best to hold up filmmaking standards in later decades. A natural Sicilian pairing might be Lattuada’s darkly comic MAFIOSO/’62 with Alberto Sordi.