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DVD SAVANT

Too Bad She's Bad


Too Bad She's Bad
Ivy Video
1955 / B&W / 1:66 flat letterbox / 95 min. / Peccato che sia una canaglia / Street Date February 10, 2004 / 24.98
Starring Vittorio De Sica, Sophia Loren, Marcello Mastroianni
Production Designer Mario Chiari
Film Editor Mario Serandrei
Original Music Alessandro Cicognini
Written by Suso Cecchi d'Amico, Sandro Continenza, Ennio Flaiano, Alberto Moravia from Moravia's story
Directed by Alessandro Blasetti

Also available with Wife for a Night and Girl With a Suitcace in a three-disc boxed set called Italian Babes of Yore for 49.95

Reviewed by Glenn Erickson

The second offering in this "Italian Babes" promotion is this charming comedy with 3 top stars. Director Vittorio De Sica was drifting back into comedy and acting and Sophia Loren was just making her impression on the international scene. They're joined by Marcello Mastroianni, who had already made 30 pictures. Audiences came to ogle Sophia, but the film is an accomplished and clever romantic comedy.

Synopsis:

Rome Cabbie Paolo (Marcello Mastroianni) almost gets his cab stolen by two punks in the company of knockout Italiana Lina Stroppiani (Sophia Loren). Paolo doesn't know whether he's trying to date Lina or get her arrested, as he's continually confused by the scrambled logic of her arguments. Lina, her clever father (Vittorio De Sica) and the rest of her family are master pickpockets and thieves, but the upstanding Paolo is the last to know.

Famous writer Alberto Moravia is the author of this clever light comedy that opposes Mastroianni's honest cabbie against a family of thieves that confuse his sense of morality. Poppa and daughter Stroppiani steal like magpies and the clever screenplay makes satirical points about the general attitude toward honesty - don't get caught. At one point, proud father Stroppiani proudly says he never robs working-class people, but Lina certainly tried to score poor Paolo's bright new hack. The car receives as many dents as Paolo's pride. He continually catches Lina's tricks after the fact, and always gets side-tracked by her romantic presence.

The script is fast, clever and smart, a class act all around. Relieved of the burden of being serious cinema, this Italian romp shows the same kind of impish fun that found its way into Mastroianni and Loren's later, more obviously sexy comedies, several of which were directed by De Sica. The dialogue delivery has finesse and the flavor of the Italian gestures and attitudes adds a lot as well.

Pre- nose job and before her leaner 60s look, Sophia Loren is indeed an eyeful, a looker with star quality that goes beyond her statuesque figure. She's a terrific foil for Mastroianni's exasperation. He alternates confusion with outrage, but comes out best in the scenes where he flutters around as an innocent in love.

Interestingly, the movie's not as simple as making Mastroianni innocent and the Stroppiani's cynical. The father and daughter thieves are romantics as well, and the easygoing script has no intention of lowering the boom on them, as happens in the later film Paper Moon. De Sica has an interesting scene at the train station hijacking the luggage of rich tourists; he borrows Charlie Chaplin's style as he maneuvers himself into striking position .

Rome locations like the Coliseum are effortlessly worked into the light-hearted story. 1955 is still a chaste year in Italian films. Optimistic DVD wolves need to be warned that sexy Sophia changes into a bathing suit near the beginning of the film, and remains a fully-clothed thief throughout the rest of the picture.


Ivy Video's DVD of Too Bad She's Bad is a good transfer of a good print of this Italian movie, an import copy with English titles spliced on but an original Italian language track. The film is flat but letterboxed at about 1:66, with the burned-in unremovable subs high in the frame. That makes the film watchable when cropped on a 16:9 television. The image is greyish but fairly sharp in most scenes, even on a large screen. The sound is clear. As these are the original release subtitles, not every word spoken is translated, leavings a lot of untranslated humor in asides and other quick speeches.

A concert short subject has the Rome Symphony Orchestra performing Cimarosa's Secret Marriage and Schubert's Rosamund. A second animated cartoon is an experimental piece perhaps inspired by UPA about a romantic triangle between three blob-like cells. It's all filmed through distorting glass and would be tiresome if not for the spirited narration by Hermione Gingold. They're called "Saturday Matinee Shorts" on the box; if you start playing the concert, they play in a string preceding the feature.

The box text makes good use of quotes from the usually humorless NY Times critic Bosley Crowther, who apparently turned to jelly at the sight of Loren, the "anatomic bomb."


On a scale of Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor, Too Bad She's Bad rates:
Movie: Excellent
Video: Good
Sound: Good
Supplements: Musical concert short subject; The Slob Story, an experimental animated carton
Packaging: Keep case
Reviewed: February 24, 2004





DVD Savant Text © Copyright 2007 Glenn Erickson

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