The winner of the Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 1964 was director Vittorio De Sica's three part anthology movie, Lerri, Oggi, Domani or, as it was released in English speaking markets, Yesterday, Today, And Tomorrow. This film marked one of a few collaborations that De Sica had with Italian box office superstars Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni, both of whom would appear in Marriage Italian-Style. Though De Sica, who was also a well known actor, passed away in 1974, his films remain well remembered and are well respected as influential and important pieces of Italian cinema from the time.
Though less 'artistic' or 'deep' than some of his other films like The Bicycle Thief or Umberto D, the three stories in this film that center around three different women and their romantic encounters with the men in their lives still proves to be a very entertaining comedic drama that holds up well today. Loren and Mastroianni play the female and male leads respectively in each of the three short stories that the film plays out for us, so fans of the two performers should be pleased with the amount of screen time that the two of them share together.
In the first story, Adelina sells contraband cigarettes on the Italian black market in Naples. Her husband, Carmine, is unemployed and they need the money that her activities bring in as it's really all that they have to live off of. When Adelina runs into trouble with the police and it looks like she's going to be doing some time behind bars, she finds out that if she's pregnant that the police will not incarcerate her. The film follows her over a few years and when it's all said and done, she's popped out seven kids and her husband just doesn't have it in him to help her out anymore. He's exhausted and worn out and tired, and it looks like Adelina might end up in jail after all.
The second story takes place in Milan where a wealthy woman named Anna drives around in her Roll Royce looking for fun and hoping to ease her boredom. She's married to a rich business man but their relationship is a loveless one. She ends up meeting a writer named Renzo and she strikes it up with him. The head on out to the countryside where he realizes that although she's very beautiful, her materialism is a real turn off. To prove to him that she doesn't just care about money and that she really would trade it all in for a real love life, she lets him drive the car. Renzo, distracted by all that is going on, almost kills a kid by running him down and he wrecks the car in the process. Anna tells him he should be using his own clothes to put out the fire, proving that she does indeed love money more than a meaningful relationship, and soon she's run off with the next (un)lucky guy to come along and catch her interest.
The third story finds Loren playing Mara, a high class call girl who is pursued by the son of a young business man named Rusconi (Mastroianni). At the same time she also catches the attention of seminarian who lives across the street from where she does business. She ends up on the receiving end of a talking to from his elderly grandmother and after that he promises to take a vow of abstinence. Though Mara is trying to make her way to a rendezvous with Rusconi, circumstances continue to arise preventing her from making it to him, and he soon becomes quite frustrated with all of it. He soon decides to leave her and pursue other interests but he knows he'll be back to her soon, and so does she.
Three simple stories are told so beautifully in this film that it really makes them seem a lot more complex than they truly are. While the tales told are quite basic, the strengths of the two main performers are utilized about as well as they possibly can be in what is essentially light, comic fare. Mastroianni and Loren are great together on screen and it's this obvious chemistry that the two of them share in the film that is the movie's strongest asset. Loren is simply gorgeous to watch, graceful and elegant and just about as sexy as they come, while Mastroianni makes for a fun and slick counterpart to her sultriness. They make a very good team in all three stories, and even if at times they may seem a little pointless (and in a sense they are) the two are good enough that it's easy to forget that the second and third stories don't truly go anywhere and exist simply as a reason to show them interacting together in a fun an entertaining manner (and in all honesty, that's reason enough if you ask me).
Cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno, who has worked with everyone from Dario Argento to Fellini, does a fantastic job of capturing not only Loren's looks but all of Italy's as well. The countryside, the inner city, the and even the small apartments that the film makes use of are wonderfully lit and shot in such a manner as to really make the most out of the settings. The movie looks as gorgeous as its two performers, appropriately enough, and Yesterday, Today And Tomorrow is as much a treat for the eyes as it is for the funny-bone.
No Shame's 2.35.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer (which the packaging claims was restored from the original negative) treats this film very nicely. The colors are strong and robust and very nicely defined and there's a surprisingly high level of detail present throughout the film in both the foreground and the background of the image. Black levels stay strong and deep and they don't break up or pixelate at all. While there is a little bit of print damage present throughout the film it's really quite minor and it doesn't detract from the viewing experience at all. For a film made more than forty years ago, it looks very nice on DVD. Some of the grain gets a little heavy in a few spots and there is some edge enhancement noticeable but overall the film looks very nice.
The Italian language Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono soundtrack is clean and clear and doesn't suffer from any hiss or distortion at all. The film's soundtrack also comes through nicely as do ambient noise effects and sound effects. The optional English language subtitles are free of any typographical errors and are easy to read.
Unfortunately, extra features are limited on this release. On the disc itself there is a really nicely laid out poster and still gallery that contains a lot of images from the film, as well as the North American theatrical trailer for the film. Inside the keepcase packaging, No Shame have gone to the effort to reproduce the entire Japanese pressbook for the film, which was a nice touch. Inside the same full color booklet there are also biographies for director Vittorio De Sica, and performers Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni. A set of French lobby cards are also reprinted inside.
While it would have been nice to see some more supplemental material on the DVD, the booklet is a nice touch and adds a serious air of class to the whole package. Yesterday, Today And Tomorrow is a nicely made film that gets a very nice presentation from No Shame Films. Recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.