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Yesterday, Today and

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
1963 / Color / 2:35 anamorphic 16:9 / 114 119 min. (PAL-NTSC differential?) / Ieri, oggi, domani / Street Date April 26, 2005 / 19.95
Starring Sophia Loren, Marcello Mastroianni, Aldo Giuffrè, Agostino Salvietti, Armando Trovajoli, Tina Pica, Gianni Ridolfi
Cinematography Giuseppe Rotunno
Production Designer Ezio Frigerio
Art Direction
Film Editor Adriana Novelli
Original Music Armando Trovajoli
Written by Cesare Zavattini, Eduardo De Filippo, Billa Billa; Anna segment from novella by Alberto Moravia; Adelina segment collaborator Isabella Quarantotti
Produced by Carlo Ponti
Directed by Vittorio De Sica

Reviewed by Glenn Erickson

NoShame is a new DVD company making its bow with two classic Italian titles, this triptych comedy-light drama, and the omnibus film Boccaccio '70 (to be reviewed here soon). Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow is very much a vehicle for producer Carlo Ponti to show off his superstar wife Sophia Loren in a variety of roles, accompanied in each by top name Marcello Mastroianni. This one earned an Oscar as Best Foreign Film in 1964, a feat accomplished less by the film itself than by Sophia's tantalizing striptease that was hyped in the publicity and featured in top magazine photo layouts. In the early sixties American filmgoers flocked to the arthouses for cinematic art - and sexy content.


Adelina: Adelina and Carmine Sbaratti (Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni) get into trouble with the law because of her job selling contraband cigarettes. But they delay her prison term by keeping her perpetually pregnant ... an activity that becomes a full-time profession of its own. Anna: Affluent wife Anna Molteni (Loren) has amorous plans to spend a day with handsome writer Renzo (Mastroianni), but as they ride out of town in her husband's Rolls Royce, Renzo wonders if her romantic feelings are as deep as she claims. Mara: Prostitute Mara (Loren) must repeatedly frustrate her client Augusto Rusconi (Mastroianni), as she tends to first the interest and then the needs of the young man in the apartment next door, a candidate for priesthood (Giovanni Ridolfi).

The title Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow might be a response to the internationally popular Greek film Never On Sunday; the whole name of the game in Italian filmmaking of the time was to find the jackpot movie that would cross national boundaries and play in America. Ieri, oggi, domani was custom-fitted to appeal: It has a little comedy, a couple of sentimental scenes, and a sexy attitude.

The sex needed to remain just an attitude, because the Italian censors were every bit as watchful over film content as the Americans, especially on a high-profile film such as this one. A few years later nudity and other content would be common in more exploitative Italian films, but not in 1963. The result is that all three episodes play the same tease game that American movies do. So U.S. audiences looking for something spicier than Doris Day found more or less a continental version of the same thing.

The first episode is the best, even though the main joke of Sophia and Marcello as poor Neapolitans having babies to fend off a jail sentence runs dry a bit too soon. Loren glows as a lusty Earth Mother, even if she's still so stunning in rags that we expect both men and women to strain their necks as she strolls by. The best moment in the film is a walk she takes, proud of her pancia (big belly) while the other cigarette hawkers applaud and cheer her on. Mastroianni is just too robust for us to believe that the constant chore of keeping her pregnant is wearing down his sperm count, or whatever. The biggest cheat comes when it looks as though Loren will enlist the aid of her husband's best friend (Aldo Giuffrè) as a substitute, a temptation that lasts only a few seconds. The ending opts for a communal effort to obtain a pardon for Loren, once she's in the klink; one pleasant scene has Mastroianni asking a pal to sing a message to her cell window from far down below.

The brief second episode has the literary pedigree (Moravia, Zavattini) but suffices mostly to put the stars in fancy dress to better contrast with the first chapter. The nattily dressed but still middle-class Mastroianni is slightly put off by the intimidating Sophia, who seems intent on dashing off from Milan to whatever ritzy love nest can be found on short notice. The point of the story is that Marcello has good reason to be sceptical about Loren's romantic fancy-talk, and he takes his lesson with a philosophical detachment.

The final chapter is the sexiest and was probably considered daring for its time. Loren plays one of those 'happy, well adjusted prostitutes' that only seems to exist in the movies. It's a different kind of Earth Mother than the one in the first episode; here she's a Roman involved with two men, both of whom are sexual children to her overwhelming feminine power. Mastroianni is amusing as a high-strung lawyer helping his father pull political strings while spending as much free time as possible with Loren. He's plenty convincing sitting on her bed for 'the big show' tense with anticipation, like he was a kid and Loren was Santa Claus.

The kind of show Loren puts on isn't what one went to Doris Day movies to see; when just unrolling her stockings she's a spectacular special effect. Again, I'll bet there were audible groans of misery in theaters when her strip was interrupted at the last second, along with the suspicion that the U.S. export version must have been some cleaned-up alternate cut. This Italian cut proves that was not so, but optimism is eternal.

Balancing the striptease is the more central plot of Loren inadvertently luring young priest-in-training Giovanni (Gianni) Ridolfi away from his chosen calling, and then taking the responsibility of steering him back again. Although Ridolfi is appealing in his innocence, this is a sticky plot turn; Loren's call girl not only has a heart of gold but apparently is also a dedicated servant of the church. Even Ridolfi's insulting grandmother turns to Loren for help when it comes time to steer the boy back onto the bus to the seminary. It really plays like a plot turn designed to elicit approving smiles from the Catholic censors, and perhaps compensate for the unclean thought processes encouraged by the striptease scene that follows soon thereafter.

Vittorio De Sica's direction is breezy and unaffected. He begins each episode with a pan across the city in question, which makes us wonder if an alternate title might have been Napoli, Milano, Roma. There's also a technically adept car mount in the Anna episode that predates the rigs used in Grand Prix; apparently De Sica didn't want to be stuck with the same three angles for the whole sequence. In defense of producer Ponti showcasing his wife and calling it art, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow fares a lot better than Dino DeLaurentiis' 1966 Le Streghe, a valentine (or relationship-reinforcer) to his wife Silvana Mangano.

Composer Armando Trovajoli also has a nice bit as a sports car driver in the Anna episode. Eagle-eyed Mario Bava fans will spot Carlo Croccolo as a lookout for the black market in Adelina; he's the truck driver in Danger: Diabolik. Robert Altman was obviously one American 'inspired' by Sophia Loren's striptease scene, as he restaged it for Ready to Wear in 1994.

NoShame's DVD of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow has stunning color and is enhanced at its full Techniscope width. Savant had previously only seen it pan-scanned, which played havoc with the striptease scene, I don't mind saying.

The image was transferred in Hi Def and looks extremely clean and detailed. The only quibble is speed and running time. The film is listed on the box as being 119 minutes but actually runs just shy of 114 ... which indicates that it has been (very nicely) converted from a PAL transfer. Not being all that familiar with the movie, Savant did not notice any scenes that were harmed by the speed-up. Extras include a still and poster gallery, an over-sold American trailer and a reprint of an original Japanese pressbook with many attractive photos. The cover art appears to be from an original Italian poster design.

It's a good start for the NoShame label, and I hope we'll be seeing more from the new company.

On a scale of Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow rates:
Movie: Excellent
Video: Excellent
Sound: Excellent Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
Supplements: Remastered in high definition from the restored original 2P negative, poster and still gallery, U.S. theatrical trailer, booklet with talent bios and reprint of the original Japanese press booklet
Packaging: Keep case
Reviewed: April 15, 2005

DVD Savant Text © Copyright 2007 Glenn Erickson

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