The Witches (1967)

aka Le streghe
Article 3379 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 10-1-2010
Posting Date: 11-13-2010
Directed by Mauro Balognini, Vittorio De Sica, Luchino Visconti, Pier Paolo Pasolini and Franco Rossi
Featuring Silvano Mangano, Toto, Clint Eastwood
Country: Italy / France
What it is: Anthology of tales about women

Five tales are told. In the first, a beautiful movie star visits the private party of a friend. In the second, a woman volunteers to drive an injured man to the hospital. In the third, a man, upon the death of his wife, makes a deal with his son to remarry, but not until they find a woman they both like. In the fourth, a Sicilian woman reveals to her father the name of her seducer. In the last, a housewife has fantasies to help her cope that her marriage has cooled down.

The title is to be taken metaphorically; there’s no overt witchcraft in any of the five stories here. Nonetheless, there are some fantastic elements here; the third story (whose absurdist comic overtones make it at least marginally a fantasy to begin with) ends with a fantastically-themed twist, and the last story’s fantasy sequences (which include appearances by Diabolik, Mandrake, Flash Gordon and Batman) also add some elements. All five stories feature Silvano Mangano as the star, and she does a fine job throughout. The second and fourth stories are mostly short jokes and are of the least interest here. The first story is directed by Visconti and is the longest of the bunch; it’s an exploration of the love/hate relationship women have with beautiful movie stars that inspire jealousy/emulation as well as a look at the way this beauty is marketed; it has some interesting things to say but gets rather dull. The third story is by Pasolini, here working once again with Toto (in one of his last movies) who is made up to look like an aging Larry Fine. It’s a light-hearted comic fable that is a lot of fun. The last story is directed by De Sica, and is perhaps the best of the lot. It features Clint Eastwood playing against type for the most part, though the fantasy sequences will sometimes feature him in much more expected roles, and he does a great job. The movie is uneven overall (most anthologies of this sort are that way), but it’s satisfying enough. According to IMDB, the German and Spanish versions of this movie run about fifteen minutes longer, which leaves me wondering if there may have been a sixth story, though IMDB does not mention any other one.


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