A movie log formerly known as Bookishness / By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Seduced and Abandoned (Pietro Germi, 1964)

Saro Urzi, Stefania Sandrelli, and Aldo Puglisi in Seduced and Abandoned
Agnese Ascalone: Stefania Sandrelli
Don Vincenzo Ascalone: Saro Urzi
Peppino Califano: Aldo Puglisi
Antonio Ascalone: Lando Buzzanca
Amalia Califano: Lola Braccini
Baron Rizieri Zappalà: Leopoldo Trieste
Cousin Ascalone: Umberto Spadaro
Matilde Ascalone: Paola Biggio
Orlando Califano: Rocco D'Assunta
Police Chief Polenza: Oreste Palella
Francesca Ascalone: Lina Lagalla
Lawyer Ciarpetta: Gustavo D'Arpe
Consolata: Rosetta Urzi
Rosaura Ascalone: Roberta Narbonne
Pasquale Profumo: Vincenzo Licata
Priest: Attilio Martella
Brigadier Bisigato: Adelino Campardo
Don Mariano: Salvatore Fazio
Uncle Carmelo: Italia Spadaro

Director: Pietro Germi
Screenplay: Pietro Germi, Luciano Vincenzoni, Agenore Incrocci, Furio Scarpelli
Cinematography: Aiace Parolin
Art direction: Carlo Egidi
Film editing: Roberto Cinquini
Music: Carlo Rustichelli

Bigotry is fun to watch, as long as it's someone else's. There's no fun to be had from the recent story about the high school valedictorian who was kicked out of the house for being gay, even though it had a happy ending: He received a full college scholarship. That's because it hits too close to where we live: a United States constantly beset by bigots sanctioned by our government. But Pietro Germi's Seduced and Abandoned delighted audiences because it made them feel superior to the small-minded, small town Sicilians who cause such a ruckus over Agnese Ascalone's out-of-wedlock pregnancy. To them, the story was much ado about "honor," a concept long regarded as outmoded ever since it was mocked by Shakespeare's Falstaff, and the notion that things could be set right by marriage, even if the marrying couple was a rapist and his victim. In this case, however, the seducer, Peppino, refuses to marry Agnese, whom he impregnated, because she's not a virgin -- no matter that it's his fault that she isn't. Much raucous but edgy humor ensues from this Catch-22, as the irascible head of the Ascalone family, played wonderfully by Saro Urzi, tries to work out the complications while maintaining the family honor -- a word that will be engraved on his tombstone. Seduced and Abandoned is a keen-eyed, cold-hearted film that works best if you realize that Germi and his screenwriters are making a point about the danger of imposing societal values on private matters, the risk run in communities of all constituencies and convictions.

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