Marriage Italian Style was pushed as a comedy, but it’s really a trenchant drama that has some wickedly funny moments laced into its sadness.
It covers two decades in the life of a mistress: a young prostitute who becomes a kept woman, a shop owner, a caretaker and a mother, all while constantly getting the wrong end of the stick from her lover/benefactor/cad.
Splendidly directed by Vittorio De Sica, once again piloting the great team-up of Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni. Released late in 1964, it drew Sophia a Best Actress Oscar nomination for that year, and a Best Foreign Film nomination for the following year, due to some Academy mixup.
Loren lost to Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins. Andrews should have won instead for her follow up in The Sound of Music (surprise grabbed by Julie Christie for Darling, a movie recalled by maybe three people) so that Sophia could rightfully take the statuette for her wonderfully shaded performance in this movie. Given full rein with the character in age, look and attitude, she’s defiant, earthy, sympathetic, tragic, commanding, all round stellar. Mastroianni matches her–exasperated, vain, selfish, pitiful, simultaneously generous and stingy. *
Five writers share credit for the excellent script; alluring views of Naples back up their vignettes through 102 rich, rewarding minutes. It managed to get to spot #87 among releases in the States, taking in $2,700,000.
- * She at least could have shared the award with Kim Stanley’s even-more disturbed housewife in Seance On A Wet Afternoon.