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