Saturday, July 06, 2013

Il giudizio universale / The Last Judgment + clip from Il processo Clemenceau (1917) + Vittorio De Sica's last tv appearance (1974)

The film was not released in Finland. IT © 1961 Dino De Laurentiis Cinematografica, S.p.A. D: Vittorio De Sica. SC: Cesare Zavattini. DP: Gábor Pogány. ED: Marisa Letti, Adriana Novelli. AD: Pasquale Romano. M: Alessandro Cicognini. S: Biagio Fiorelli, Bruno Moreal. C: Fernandel (il vedovo / the widower), Alberto Sordi (il trafficante di bambini / merchant of children), Paolo Stoppa (Giorgio), Anouk Aimée (Irene, Giorgio's wife), Nino Manfredi (il cameriere / waiter), Silvana Mangano (Signora Matteoni), Vittorio Gassman (Cimino), Renato Rascel (Coppola), Melina Mercouri (foreign lady), Vittorio De Sica (l'avvocato difensore / defense lawyer), Jack Palance (Matteoni), Lino Ventura (Giovanna's father), Mike Bongiorno (se stesso / himself), Ernest Borgnine (il ladro / pickpocket), Franco Franchi e Ciccio Ingrassia (disoccupati), Lamberto Maggiorani (poor man), Maria Pia Casilio (waitress), Jimmy Durante (the man with the large nose), Akim Tamiroff (play director). - Nicola Rossi-Lemeni (God's voice). P: Dino De Laurentiis per Dino De Laurentiis Cinematografica, Standard Films. Loc: Naples. Premiere: 26 ottobre 1961. 35 mm. 98'. B&w. Da: Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna e CSC - Cineteca Nazionale per concessione di Filmauro. Cinema Jolly (Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna), e-subtitles in English by Sub-Ti, 6 July 2013

Vittorio De Sica: "Quanto al Giudizio universale (un altro mio film infelice, che non ebbe fortuna ma che io considero fra i più belli che ho fatto), lì non eravamo nella favola ma semmai, come dire?, nella fanta-religione. Se oggi dal cielo sentissimo una voce che dicesse "Preparati, fra mezz'ora c'è il giudizio universale", ognuno di noi correrebbe ai ripari, cioè scaricherebbe le proprie responsabilità per apparire mondo, puro, davanti al Giudizio. E se poi viene il contrordine, come racconto nel film, ognuno si ritufferebbe subito nella sua ipocrisia, nella sua cattiveria. Oggi forse quel film avrebbe successo, e lo avrebbe Umberto D. Non vorrei sembrarle troppo vanitoso, ma credo che quei due film siano usciti troppo presto. Spesso Zavattini e io abbiamo avuto il difetto di pensare certe cose troppo presto." Vittorio De Sica, intervista di Giuliano Ferrieri, De Sica visto da De Sica, "L'Europeo", n. 47, 21 novembre 1974

Vittorio De Sica: "With Il Giudizio universale (another of my unlucky films, not particularly successful but nonetheless one I consider among the best I made), we weren't after making a fairy tale but, how should I put it... we made a 'religious fantasy'. If we were to hear a voice booming from the sky saying "Get ready, because in half an hour Doomsday is coming", we would all be running for cover, abandoning everything we were doing to appear uncorrupted and pure when faced with Judgment Day. And then if the countermand came, as it does in the film, everyone would jump right back to the usual hypocrisy and meanness. Perhaps today this film would have more success, as would Umberto D. I don't intend to sound vain, but I think those two films came out too early. Zavattini and I often made the mistake of coming up with ideas too soon." Vittorio De Sica, interview  by  Giuliano Ferrieri, De Sica visto da De Sica, "L'Europeo", n. 47, November 21, 1974

Callisto Cosulich: "Italian cinema is once again at the crest of a wave. But, looking at its umpteenth rebirth, it hasn't been pointed out that, today, we are reaping what was sown three, four, even ten years ago. There were stories, treatment, at time completely polished scripts that were stashed away in the drawers of their writers [...] Among all of these stories, simmering for years, one of the relics is that which gave rise to Il Giudizio universale, which Vittorio De Sica is shooting now in Naples. Everything else aside, it is the one script among these, which changed the most along  the  way. It could be claimed that it exists thanks to the sacrifice, voluntary or fortuitous, of a series of other projects, one by one shelved or transformed by the writer, Cesare Zavattini, a constant figure in this novel of many chapters. Initially it didn't even begin as a story, rather more as a joke; it wasn't the Judgment, but the Flood; it started at nine in the morning, rather than at six in the afternoon, as the final version has it. It was meant to be the opening of Basta una canzone, which Zavattini was finishing for Blasetti and on which at a certain stage he also involved Flaiano and Maccari, a film completely out of the norm, responding to the mood of the year in which it was conceived: 1945, at the end of the war. It was supposed to be the instrument for expressing the redde rationem (reckoning) after such a dark era, to provoke a kind of mass confession, compel people to take a profound look at the many wrongs every individual had some share in. But the substantial hypocrisy of humanity was not to be vanquished even by the fear of cataclysm, and the brief moment of sincerity is quickly transformed into a breathless grasping for alibis. This theme, of alibis and excuses, is one Zavattini has borne all these years and now explodes today in one of the most derisive scenes in Il Giudizio. It is the exclamation "I have a mother too!" shouted by all the Italians, in solidarity with Antonio Abati, accused of servility to his boss, who makes him come every morning with a bouquet of flowers [...]. De Sica, who was on the verge of making this film on numerous occasions, was always unable to find the resources to cover the budget. Il Giudizio has become itself the fairy tale of  Italian  cinema,  to the point where a kind spirit spread the word that De Sica was waiting to shoot it live [...]. In what form is Il Giudizio in its final version? Ten different stories intertwine with mathematical precision and utter discipline, without ever trying to overwhelm one another, nor overreaching their dimensions so as to hurt the others: each is seen three times before the Judgment, once during and once after, to all come together at the end, in one place, the 'Great Ballroom for the Unemployed', reminiscent of the later films of René Clair." Callisto Cosulich, Sedici anni a bagnomaria, "La fiera del cinema", n. 4, April 4, 1961

AA: Gian Luca Farinelli gave an inspired introduction to this special screening, interpreted into English by Cecilia Cenciarelli.

My notes from the Gian Luca Farinelli introduction: "Vittorio De Sica's career was the most extraordinary in the history of the Italian cinema. He appeared in 157 films, more than anybody else in Italy. After the feature we will see two clips. The first is from his first performance in Il processo Clemenceau (1917), and the other is from his last television performance shortly before his death in 1974 in a very popular programme."

"The films Vittorio De Sica really loved most were the ones that were not commercially successful. Umberto D. and Il giudizio universale were films that were especially dear for Vittorio De Sica. Neither had commercial success, and in De Sica's opinion they were ahead of their time."

"Il giudizio universale was the last Vittorio De Sica-Cesare Zavattini collaboration. They came to the attention of the world with neorealism, and they switched to reinterpreting neorealism through fairy-tales."

"It was a mysterious relationship between a farmer from Padana and a prince from Naples.

"Zavattini created an extraordinary gallery of characters, and De Sica gave them a legendary stature."

"Zavattini said: "I due di noi sono come cappucchino. We do not know which part is which, which is coffee, and which is milk." Their films were founded on a real, human basis of simplicity and clarity." Gian Luca Farinelli (notes by AA)

AA: The booming voice of God is heard from the sky: "The Last Judgment starts at six o'clock". "It must be a commercial", is one of the reactions.

Il giudizio universale is a multi-character study which reveals an often blasé and half-hearted reaction to the prospect of imminent apocalypse. It is a satiric confirmation to the words of the Bible: "The worst are the lukewarm".

The widower Fernandel chases an attractive woman. - Anouk Aimée is caught in a triangle with two men. - Vittorio Gassman is a dandy infinitely proud of his hat; then some scoundrel drops a tomato on it. - Vittorio De Sica is a defense lawyer at the court where there is apparently a corruption case being processed. - Silvana Mangano keeps revealing embarrassing truths about Jack Palance's business affairs based on fraud and corruption. - Television is constantly on, showing brainless quiz shows by Mike Bongiorno. - The children ask what is the last judgment. - Alberto Sordi is a merchant of children who buys children from poor peasants and cheats reluctant kids to believe that he is a father figure. - Ernest Borgnine is a pickpocket who pretends he is an old friend of Fernandel's. - Jimmy Durante is despairing that he must carry this nose for another 20 years. - Melina Mercouri is having a hotel  room affair with an ambassador. Cocaine is available.

God takes over the television, and there is a farcical international montage of interrogations on the eve of the last judgment.

There is a great wind and a torrential rain. More confessions and revelations are made, for instance by Silvana Mangano. In the courtroom the accused confesses "But I'm guilty" to the dismay of the defense attorney.

Suddenly the rain stops, the sun shines, and everybody returns to their old ways. There is a colour sequence at the stage of a theatre where everybody sings and dances.

A movie of high ambition, but the approach is itself lukewarm. The performances are often highly theatrical, and it is a means of expression, but somehow it all does not build the way it should. The dopo di noi il diluvio atmosphere is a bit bland.

Highpoints of the movie: - Silvana Mangano's long monologue exposing Jack Palance. - The montage of the children's faces in the family from which Alberto Soldi is buying a little boy. - The "But I'm guilty" scene. - The boy starting to believe Alberto Sordi as a father figure. - "Maybe we're dead now and only think we're still alive".

The visual quality: a very duped look.


A clip from Il processo Clémenceau. IT 1917. PC: Caesar Film. D: Alfredo De Antoni. C: Francesca Bertini, Gustavo Serena. - In a small role: Vittorio De Sica (Pierre Clémenceau bambino). Format: Computer file. - Moving into the garden, wearing a uniform, in a long shot and in a medium shot, it is impossible to see facial details. Tinted or toned in green.

A clip from [Vittorio De Sica's last television appearance, 1974]. RAI Teche. Format: Computer file. Vittorio De Sica speaks in Italian, and there was no translation. Words I could understand included: - Neapolitan - gira il film - Mastroianni - scena sonora - mille bambini - megafono - silenzio - motore - ciak - azione - silenzio - grazie - tre mille - prego. Whatever it was, it was energetic and rewarded with laughter.

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