This obscure version of the great children's classic by Carlo Collodi was a fairly low-budget version that did not come with too much of a reputation. Actor Vittorio Gassman, who has a small role as the Caliban-like fisherman Verde, stated that he did the film because of a relative that was involved in it and that the result was amateurish and mediocre.
It came as a real surprise when I discovered that that was not the case. The film is well-put-together, has a great deal of charm, and there is more appeal here than in the elaborate pretentious mess that Roberto Benigni concocted with a huge budget a couple of years ago. And Pinocchio, played by appealing child actor Sandro Tomei, is loads better than Benigni was with his grotesque muggings as a the wooden boy.
Simple but effective costumes are used by the actors in the roles of the talking cricket, the cat and the wolf. Augusto Contardi makes a poignant Geppetto. Lovely Mariella Lotti is, well, lovely as the good fairy who ultimately grants Pinocchio his well-earned boyhood after his spell of bad pre-pubescent choices. The silly-looking model whale that Pinocchio (and Geppetto) get swallowed by doesn't look like it cost more than the equivalent of $59.95 but does not detract from the overall modest charm of the picture.
Apart from the animated Disney version of this story which strays widely from the Collodi book, the 1972 version of Luigi Comencini is still probably the best. But there is nothing to be ashamed of in this creditable little post-war Italian flick. A bit of trivia: while watching this movie I noticed that at least one of the musical themes by Alessandro Cicognini was very similar to what he used in De Sica's "Shoe Shine" ("Sciuscià.")
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