Criterion Sunday 350: Sedotta e abbandonata (Seduced and Abandoned, 1964)

After his earlier Divorce Italian Style (1961), Pietro Germi has another knockabout satirical comedy about Italian customs — or, rather, that should be specifically Sicilian codes of honour. Stefania Sandrelli once again plays a beautiful teenage girl, Agnese, being chased by a man, Peppino (Aldo Puglisi, playing the fiancé of her older sister), though this time once he’s had his way — and made her pregnant — he tries to abandon her, which occasions all the ensuing humour. Naturally there’s plenty of dark material too, given that his repeatedly stated reasons for not wanting to marry her are that she’s “a tramp” (even though it’s his actions which occasioned his own low estimation of her), but there’s no stopping the Agnese’s father, the family’s patriarch (Saro Urzì), from trying to save his family’s honour. This involves local law enforcement, judges, violence, loud arguments staged for the benefit of the gossiping public, and other machinations to ensure that she is supported and the rest of his daughters can be married off too. Sandrelli for her part is largely a meek and unsmiling woman at the edge of the frame, imagined in various ways by the men around her, with little of her own agency, because this is a film about the very macho traditions of the community. The police chief himself is given to covering up the island of Sicily with his hand, so sick is he of thinking about it. There’s lots of boisterous humour, but also a fair streak of bullying and misogyny exposed thereby, that makes this a very Italian film, I think.

CRITERION EXTRAS:

  • There’s a 7-minute interview with Sandrelli from 2002 in which she discusses making the film and working with Germi, as well as a short extract of her screen test (which she provides some commentary for).
  • Alongside Sandrelli’s interview is a similar length one with Lando Buzzanca, who played her brother in the film.

FILM REVIEW: Criterion Collection
Director Pietro Germi; Writers Germi, Agenore Incrocci, Furio Scarpelli and Luciano Vincenzoni; Cinematographer Aiace Parolin; Starring Stefania Sandrelli, Saro Urzì, Aldo Puglisi, Lando Buzzanca; Length 117 minutes.

Seen at home (DVD), London, Monday 31 August 2020.

Criterion Sunday 286: Divorzio all’italiana (Divorce Italian Style, 1961)

Marcello Mastroianni’s married man, a rakish Sicilian noble fallen on hard times, Baron Fernando, falls for his beautiful teenage cousin Angela (Stefania Sandrelli) and tries to figure out ways he can get out of his marriage, thanks to Italy’s strict laws about divorce. If the premise of this film is rather leering and lascivious, one suspects it was taken much the same way in Italy of 1960; this, after all, is a film that attempts to poke fun at the leering, lascivious ways of older gentlemen like Fernando (his dad, too, is much the same with the family’s maid). Mastroianni is of course excellent in the kind of role he was always a natural fit for, what with his charm and good looks, but that doesn’t excuse his character, who gets increasingly desperate and violent in his plotting to divorce his wife Rosalia (Daniela Rocca, who is also clearly a very beautiful woman and not much older than Sandrelli, even if the filmmakers have given her a unibrow and some unflattering upper lip hair). Ferdinando remains the focus throughout, along with his (at times) cartoonishly silly plans, and neither Angela nor Rosalia feel fully fleshed out as characters, but the film maintains a light and humorous tone to all the goings-on, with some beautiful black-and-white photography of Sicily.


FILM REVIEW: Criterion Collection
Director Pietro Germi; Writers Ennio De Concini, Germi and Alfredo Giannetti (based on the novel Un delitto d’onore “Honour Killing” by Giovanni Arpino); Cinematographers Carlo Di Palma and Leonida Barboni; Starring Marcello Mastroianni, Stefania Sandrelli, Daniela Rocca, Leopoldo Trieste; Length 108 minutes.

Seen at home (DVD), London, Sunday 12 January 2020.