Review for Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
After thoroughly enjoying the recent ‘Boccaccio ‘70’ release from Cult Films, I had very high expectations for ‘Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow’. Directed by one of ‘Boccaccio’s four directors, Vittorio De Sica, it also stars the wonderful Sophia Loren in another compendium of stories; this time, three tales all featuring Loren and equally fabulous co-star, Marcello Mastroianni.
I started out watching the film with a fairly unconvincing English dub (as it is advertised as something of a first on home-media, having been discovered and cleaned up for this release) but I gave up and started the whole thing over in native Italian with subs, which was a far better experience.
Two of the three films have a decidedly more comedic atmosphere than some of De Sica’s other well-known works, like the incredibly tragic Umberto D.
Whilst all three films in the themed ‘Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow’ have merit, it’s less impressive overall than ‘Boccaccio ‘70’ in my opinion, despite winning the 1964 Best Foreign Film Oscar, with slightly uneven offerings, starting with an excellent, near feature length piece, followed by a far lesser and substantially shorter second ‘segment’ and closing with another short which was somewhat better.
Film 1 - Adelina
Having been caught illicitly selling black market cigarettes in Rome’s back streets, poverty stricken Adelina Sbaratti (Sophia Loren) and her handsome but hapless and unemployed husband, Carmine Sbaratti (Marcello Mastroianni), face the impossible task of paying back taxes as prescribed by the courts. Unable to pay, the bailiffs arrive to collect their belongings from their apartment, but find it empty of all possessions. It turns out they have been moved out with the help of neighbours who had got wind of the visit. However, a local lawyer impresses upon them the full gravity of their situation which could see Adelina spend time in jail. They learn of a loophole in the law which means that, if she is pregnant, she cannot be incarcerated. So all they have to do is make sure that she is constantly pregnant, a task which eventually overcomes the exhausted husband.
Despite its depiction of poverty, the warm humour and comradely behaviour of the neighbours and community make it both a fun and heart-warming watch. The location footage is incredible too and adds to the conclusion that this is, without doubt, the film’s finest segment.
Film 2- Anna
In a much shorter, and far simpler scenario from a production perspective, ‘Anna’ features Sophia Loren as the beautiful, if somewhat spoiled, Anna Molteni. She is having an affair with the highly reticent Renzo (Marcello Mastroianni), a poor writer who feels awkward about the fact that Anna is horribly rich though her marriage to a wealthy businessman. They meet one day and go for a drive but when Renzo takes the wheel at Anna’s insistence, he ends up crashing the car into a tractor.
There isn’t much damage but it means they can no longer drive, allowing them to carry on their incessant bickering in the car. It’s a strange addition with a conclusion (which I won’t share here) which I found curiously unsatisfying. The weakest of the trio of films for me, without a doubt.
Film 3 - ‘Mara’
Mara (Sophia Loren) is an ‘escort’ who lives in a second floor apartment with a small roof garden. In the garden next door, a cranky middle-aged lady and husband live with their late teenage son who is about to become a priest.
Augusto Rusconi is a devoted client of Mara’s who, it appears, is a Government official, but is played full-tilt for laughs by Marcello Mastroianni as he voices his fantasies about what he and Mara might get up to. In the meantime, as Mara comes outside for fresh air, the young priest is utterly entranced and cannot take his eyes off her. Although he is aware of what she does, he is utterly smitten and can’t accept his mum’s cruel assessment of the girl.
Eventually, through conversation over the garden wall, Mara befriends the boy but he soon decides to renounce his priesthood. Realising that she may have been instrumental in that, she promises his parents that she will do all she can to get him back on track – even if it means not having sex for a week. Of course, Augusto is none too pleased with some comedic results.
It’s a fun, sex comedy piece that reflects the core role that Catholicism played in 1960s Rome – and its impact on everyday behaviours. Whilst a bit lighter than ‘Adelina’, it’s a lot more fun to watch than ‘Anna’ and a decent ending to the trio. Loren also looks incredible throughout – an actress at the very height of her powers.
The HD transfer of ‘Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow’ is great. It’s a very decent print, nicely transferred. Audio wise, you get a choice of an LPCM mono mix in Italian and an LPCM mono mix in English. As stated earlier, the English dub is to be avoided. Despite its clean up, it sounds thin and reedy when compared to the Italian version.
Extra features, other than the excellent reversible sleeve art, have been ported over from previous Cult Films releases and include an hour-long documentary ‘Sophia Loren: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow’ which is interesting but not the greatest visual quality and a detailed 90 minute documentary about Vittorio De Sica called ‘Vittorio D’.
Whilst not quite as consistently enjoyable as ‘Boccaccio ‘70’ for me, this is still a lot of fun and is recommended.