Combustible Celluloid
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With: Sophia Loren, Marcello Mastroianni, Aldo Puglisi, Tecla Scarano, Maril� Tolo, Gianni Ridolfi, Generoso Cortini, Vito Moricone, Rita Piccione, Alfio Vita, Enza Maggi
Written by: Renato Castellani, Tonino Guerra, Leonardo Benvenuti, Piero De Bernardi, based on a play by Eduardo De Filippo
Directed by: Vittorio De Sica
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Language: Italian, with English subtitles
Running Time: 101
Date: 12/18/1964

Marriage Italian Style (1964)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Love and Hate

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Vittorio De Sica won four Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film; Marriage Italian Style was his fifth nomination and the first time he lost. Star Sophia Loren was also nominated for Best Actress, but she lost to Julie Andrews (Loren had already won in 1960). Marriage Italian Style is a good deal soapier and ultimately less satisfying than De Sica's previous collaboration with Loren and Marcello Mastroianni, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, but it's still effectively heart-rending.

Loren plays Filumena Marturano, a lost and forgotten member of a huge, poor family, who gets by as a prostitute. During the war, this scared teen is discovered by Domenico Soriano (Marcello Mastroianni); he makes her his mistress and his servant. She remains by his side for decades, but when Domenico prepares to marry a much younger woman, Filumena takes a drastic step to get her lover to marry her; she pretends to be dying. Most of the story is told in flashback, and when the flashbacks are finished, the focus turns to Filumena's relationship with her three boys, each the result of a different, former male customer.

The movie is described as a comedy, but it's really a hysterical, heart-clutching drama with Loren shooting fire through her eyes. She is truly magnificent here, a force of nature, forced to age 20 years during the course of the movie, and fully carrying that weight. Not even Mastroianni, who was usually perfectly suited to her, could stand up to her ferocious performance; he's a goner right from the start. Overall, the movie is too big and pitched too high to be a masterpiece, but Loren brings enough personality to the table to make it worth a look. The disc comes with trailers for all three movies in the De Sica/Loren Award Collection.

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