Review for Marriage Italian Style
‘Marriage Italian Style’ was released to international acclaim in 1964. It was, to a large extent, a star vehicle for its core cast, Marcello Mastroianni and Sophia Loren, and, of course, was from the much acclaimed director (and actor) Vittorio De Sica who had a string of acclaimed films under his belt by then (Umberto D., The Roof).
In terms of international stereotyping, it’s a film that definitely has a ring of ‘only in Italy’ about it, as the ‘marriage’ in question is anything but normal. It’s a predictably fun film, almost rom-com but with a darker twist than merely that, dividing itself between light-humour and all-out melodrama.
If you’re familiar with the film, then you’ll enjoy seeing it in HD. It’s not a perfect transfer but, from what I have read about previous DVD releases, this is a big step up quality wise.
It’s a classic tale of rich (slightly) older man meets young, lower-class beauty – in this case, a somewhat reluctant prostitute who, during the occupation of WWII, has been forced to work in a brothel.
Don Domenico (Mastroianni) is doing alright, despite the War, running a confectionary shop, when he meets 17-year old Filumena Maturano (Loren) in a brothel in Naples He is relaxed and composed, a regular one presumes at the brothel, whilst she is frightened – refusing to come out of a cupboard and take cover in the local air-raid shelter. She is also deeply ashamed that she will be recognised and pilloried for being a prostitute.
Having rescued her, she soon becomes his mistress and over the years their relationship continues in this manner – him using her for his amusement without any commitment.
For her part, she is madly in love with him but discovers that he is having an affair with one of his young staff. She sets about faking her own death (well, demise) which is where the film starts – but to no avail. Desperate to win her man for good, she confesses she has three sons, one of which is Domenicos. Like every true Italian, this proves too much and he agrees to marry.
It’s all beautifully shot, showing Naples at its best and most rugged, and the two leads are, predictably, superb. Sophia Loren may well have been a pretty face but, despite no formal training, proved to be a really great film actress too with immense on-screen charisma, on full display here of course.
There are two documentaries included in the set, though both have appeared on previous recent Cult Films releases.
“Sophia, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow”: is an interesting enough ‘appreciation of Sophia Loren, featuring interviews with Woody Allen, Giorgio Armani and others, but is really very poor visual quality.
“Vittorio D” is a tribute to De Sica, who was quite a character, moving from actor to director and back again at will. It features interviews with Clint Eastwood, Ken Loach, Mike Leigh and others but I believe is the same piece you can find on ‘Umberto D’.
‘Marriage Italian Style’ is a fun release and thoroughly enjoyable. The transfer may well be best yet and the subtitles are superbly done with little on-screen interference, Recommended.