The third of three Lina Wertmüller movies following The Seduction of Mimi (1972) and Love and Anarchy (1973), All Screwed Up (Tutto a posto e niente in ordine, or "Everything Ready, Nothing Works," also its original English title, 1974) is the least successful of the three, but still entertaining and intriguing. Lacking Giancarlo Giannini and Mariangela Melato, the stars of Mimi and Love and Anarchy, this instead is an ambitious tapestry featuring an ensemble cast, about working-class types emigrating from the countryside to Milan in search of wealth and love. It's mostly a satire though it gets a bit more serious and a lot more cynical toward the end.
Of the three it's also the most self-conscious and occasionally it tries too hard. Probably because it has so many characters each is reduced to a personality type Italian audiences might immediately recognize but non-Italians may not, and this results in some of the humor not traveling as well. But it still has many fine vignettes and thematically the films all fit together as a kind of matched set. (One wonders if rights to Wertmüller's Swept Away, which really ought to have been included, too, reside elsewhere or if Kino has it but is saving it for a later date.)
The video transfer is okay but nothing special, and definitely weaker than Love and Anarchy, the best of the three both as a movie and in terms of the high-def picture.
Naïve "southerners" from the country, Gigi (Luigi Diberti) and Carletto (Nino Bignamini), arrive in present-day Milan. Within minutes of their arrival they're marked by a grifter who sells them a stolen scooter, and on their very first day at work they're arrested for joining an organized labor march. They encounter a diminutive, distraught Sicilian girl, Adelina (Sara Rapisarda) looking for her cousin, Isotta (Isa Danieli), who soon turns up. Though similarly transplanted from Sicily not long before, Isotta is now the image of Italian upward-mobility. Gigi and Carletto also encounter another southerner, lovesick Sante (Renato Rotondo), smitten by an apprentice window-dresser, Mariuccia (Lina Polito).
A wealthier, more sophisticated acquaintance, Biki (Giuliana Calandra), proposes everyone move into a communal arrangement, basically most of an entire floor of tenement housing in a decaying building completely surrounded by austere, modern high-rises. They save and spend their meager wages working at slaughterhouses, produce markets, and intensely busy restaurants, some moving upward and onward, but most locked in inescapable poverty, where a single illness or unwanted pregnancy can bring total financial ruin. (Sound familiar?)
Adelina and Carletto become engaged, but he's as frustrated by her traditional no-sex-before-marriage attitude as he is by her insistence on charging him for everything from washing his clothes to serving him a cup of coffee. When he tries to have his way with her, she resists, but in their struggle she's forced to choose between having their new television set fall to the floor or hold it in place while Carletto forces himself upon her. She chooses the TV.
Sante and Mariuccia are married, but despite every precaution they keep having children, and in a funny, sad scene Sante tries soliciting himself for extra income. Gigi turns to petty crime, with some funny results.
The picture opens much like other broadly played, mainstream Italian comedies, but Wertmüller's film gets dark and nasty along the way. The women are generally tougher survivors than the men. Biki, for instance, sees everything in terms of how much money can be made or saved on the backs of others, living only for her own personal pleasure, a philosophy she's willing to impart on the other women. By the end of the film, unhesitatingly she's ready to kick Sante, Mariuccia, and their brood of babies out on the street so that their room can be rented out "by the hour."
All Screwed Up ("Everything Ready, Nothing Works" is the better title) gets a little pretentious here and there, such as a long montage showing the balletic if horrifying goings-on at the slaughterhouse where Gigi and Carletto first work. Animal lovers will want to avoid these graphic scenes.
Video & Audio
Presented in 1.78:1 format, approximately its original 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio, All Screwed Up looks fairly good, but it lacks the strong color and detail of Love and Anarchy though it's almost minus some of the transfer issues present in The Seduction of Mimi. The 1920 x 1080p transfer is accompanied by a decent Italian mono track, supported by good English subtitles.
As with the other two titles, this is light on supplements. Included on this disc is but one extra, a very modest stills gallery.
The weakest of the three, All Screwed Up still fascinates and is Highly Recommended.
Stuart Galbraith IV is a Kyoto-based film historian whose work includes film history books, DVD and Blu-ray audio commentaries and special features. Visit Stuart's Cine Blogarama here.