Netflix Update No. 53: “Marriage Italian Style”
October 10, 2011
When we recommended to a neighbor that she watch the Marcello Mastroianni-Jack Lemmon film “Macaroni,” she countered by referring us to the 1964 movie “Marriage Italian Style,” in which Mastroianni stars with Sophia Loren. I had seen it about 40 years ago, but didn’t remember anything about it.
Filmed in Italian in Naples, this is the story of an amoral businessman who meets a teen-aged prostitute in a brothel during an Allied bombing raid, and then makes her his mistress when they meet again several years later. Domenico Soriano (Mastroianni) is in the baking business, and he puts Filumina Maturano (Loren) in charge of one of his stores while he keeps her — outside his home — in a very comfortable style. Filumena is not satisfied with this arrangement and she pressures “Dummi,” as she calls him, both to publicly acknowledge her and to make her a part of his household. Step-by-step she gains concessions that include a room in his house and recognition as the “lady” of the premises, but she does not get the final prize, marriage, until she employs a subterfuge that blows up in her face.
Meanwhile, Filumena has a secret of her own — actually, three — namely a trio of sons she has borne as a result of her career, one of them by the unwitting Domenico.
This film, directed by Vittorio De Sica and filmed in the earthy Neapolitan environment, is a combination of farce, tawdry melodrama, and implausible plot, that can’t be taken seriously. Considering the lengths De Sica went to in order to exploit Loren’s legendary physique – as opposed to the weight of her acting – the Oscar she won as “best actress in a foreign film” seems farcical in itself.
Having said that, I can report that the movie, taken for what it is, is funny and entertaining. The surroundings, whether indoor or out, are engaging, and Mastroianni himself is hard to completely dislike in any role. In this case, except for the ludicrous conclusion, he is worth watching as the rake trying to avoid the consequences of a misspent adulthood.