BOCCACCIO ’70 (1962)
Article 1921 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 6-18-2006
Posting Date: 11-15-2006
Directed by Vittorio De Sica, Federico Fellini, Mario Monicelli and Luchino Visconti
Featuring Anita Ekberg, Romy Schneider, Sophia Loren
Four Italian directors take on stories based on Boccaccio’s “The Decameron”. In the first, a woman employed by a book-keeper must keep her marriage a secret if she doesn’t want to lose her job. In the second, a self-appointed moral watchdog tries to censor a billboard placed outside of his apartment – one in which Anita Ekberg is advertising milk. In the third, a rich celebrity caught in a scandal about his involvement with prostitutes must turn to his wife to save him from the bad publicity. The fourth is about a woman who decides to make her fortune by raffling off her favors in a carnival.
With a running length of 208 minutes, you can understand why I was tempted to watch only the second tale (which is the one with the fantastic content) and skip the other three, but I guess that just didn’t seem right to me. Fortunately, the movie turned out good enough that I didn’t really mind the investment of the entire running time. Still, I must admit that I liked the second tale far and away the best, not so much because of its fantastic content, but because it was directed by Federico Fellini. This hilarious tale features Cupid playing a trick on the moral watchdog by having him tempted by a giant Anita Ekberg (who emerges from the billboard in the second half of the segment to torment him). This movie also features a funny scene where we witness the filming of a sword-and-sandal movie. There’s also a short sequence of the first story that takes place in a movie theatre where our protagonists watch part of a vampire movie. This first sequence was originally cut from the American release to bring the length of the movie down, a decision that actually caused a bit of an uproar at the time. Outside of the Fellinii sequence, my favorite was the last sequence, in which the woman who raffles off her favors must contend both with a jealous boyfriend and the exceedingly meek man who actually wins the raffle. The other two sequences are much more serious in tone, and though I didn’t like them as much as the Fellini and De Sica sections, they’re not bad. What I’d really like to see, though, is the full version of the Fellini sequence, which orginally ran over eighty minutes long and had to be cut by twenty minutes before it was incorporated into the movie.