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Vittorio De Sica's never-seen and almost totally unknown first film as director is a light-hearted, ironic, tongue-in-cheek dissertation on on marriage and the temptation to adultery. It has some elements of a Lubitsch or Clair comedy. It is based on the 1936 play by Aldo De Benedetti (1892-1970) "Two Dozen Red Roses", a perennial favorite that is probably as often performed in Italy as "Arsenic and Old Lace" is in America.
The comedy of errors (and design) begins when Alberto (Vittorio De Sica) receives a phone call, in error, ordering two dozen red roses. The husband is amused and dreams of an adventure with an unknown woman. His wife Maria then receives the flowers with a card signed "Mystery" and this leads her to want to encounter the man who has sent them. The husband realizes what has happened and sees how far he can push the gag to test his wife's reactions and the strength of her fidelity and continues to send roses every day. He becomes jealous of the "phantom sender", in reality himself.
So does the desire for potential adultery constitute the real thing? Both husband and wife are guilty but of what? Of desire, but not of any action. All turns out well, but the question remains.
The story is a clever enough one and has a certain appeal but never really rises above its contrivance although it is amusing enough to watch it unfold. Renée Saint-Cyr plays the wife, Umberto Melnati does a nice turn as the husband's friend and accomplice in the wily machinations.
The film is very difficult to see today and has long been considered lost, but a French-dubbed copy has appeared on French television.
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