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Mafioso

mafioso2.jpg

Mafioso, an Italian black comedy filmed 1962, was really released about four decades ahead of its time, as one critic has remarked. This dark comedy begins as a kind of Italian "Green Acres" where a Milano family, including a handsome father, lovely, chic and cool blonde mom, and their two beautiful little girls, go to visit long-lost relatives in Sicily. But its ending is very unexpectedly serious.

Misunderstandings and far too much heavy food result from the family's arrival in Sicily, leading the viewer to expect a fairly predictable farce about the Italy and the Mafia. Yet while the beginning of the film emphasizes the comedy, the ending is very, very dark and rather disturbing. I think that all in all, this was a very good film.

In Mafioso, popular Italian comedian Alberto Sordi plays Antonio "Nino" Badalamenti, a prosperous, happy man who takes a holiday from his job in Milan's Fiat factory in order to show his young family the Sicilian town where he grew up, and to introduce his lovely wife Marta (Brazilian actress Norma Bengell) to his parents.

Predictably, she's a little frightened by how bleak his hometown seems to be, and by his family, which is pretty skeptical about the suitability of the blonde city girl. Soon, Nino and his young family must go to pay their respects to Don Vincenzo, the local "man of honour" as mafioso were once known. Before long, Don Vincenzo does a favour for Nino's family, and before Nino knows what's happening, he is being drawn into some pretty nasty business.

The movie, shot in black and white, depicts Sicily as a very bleak, yet very beautiful place where the sun is brilliant, the land is dry and the people very hard to read. And it certainly dashes any of the subsequent Hollywood illusions about what the mob is really all about.



Comments (3)

The photo and the thought of an Italian "Green Acres" cracks me up! It probably makes it even more powerful to contrast the slapstick with the serious. I've never heard of this film and it's interesting to read about it.

sandrac:

Annie, that's it exactly -- the contrast between the wacky opening and very serious conclusion make it a powerful film.

Anne:

Oh this movie looks fascinating. I had never heard of it either. I wonder if it is available in video stores (probably not my little village one! But I'll have a look in Halifax.)

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