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Divorce Italian Style (1961)
"Divorzio all'italiana" (original title)

Not Rated  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Romance  |  17 September 1962 (USA)
8.3
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Ratings: 8.3/10 from 7,458 users  
Reviews: 28 user | 38 critic

A married Sicilian baron falls in love with his cousin and vows to wed her, but with divorce illegal he must concoct a crime of passion to do away with his wife.

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 10 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Ferdinando Cefalù
Daniela Rocca ...
Rosalia Cefalù
...
Angela
Leopoldo Trieste ...
Carmelo Patanè
Odoardo Spadaro ...
Don Gaetano Cefalù
Margherita Girelli ...
Sisina
Angela Cardile ...
Agnese
Lando Buzzanca ...
Rosario Mulè
Pietro Tordi ...
Attorney De Marzi
Ugo Torrente ...
Don Calogero
Antonio Acqua ...
Priest
Bianca Castagnetta ...
Donna Matilde Cefalù
Giovanni Fassiolo ...
Don Ciccio Matara
Ignazio Roberto Daidone
Francesco Nicastro
Edit

Storyline

Baron Fefé Cefalù is a Sicilian nobleman bored of life and of wife Rosalia: he falls in love with young and beautiful cousin Angela, who spends summers in the same palace. Since divorce is impossible in Italy in the 1960s, he decides to kill the wife, knowing that sentence would be very light if he proved that he committed murder for a matter of honour, i.e. when he found the wife together with another man. Therefore, he starts finding a lover for Rosalia, using Carmelo Patané, a painter well-known by her. Written by Alessio F. Bragadini <alessio@dsnet.it>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A delightfully daring plan to give marriage a surprise ending! See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

17 September 1962 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Divorce Italian Style  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Co. System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film the villagers crowd into the cinema to see, La Dolce Vita (1960), was released the year before this film and also starred Marcello Mastroianni. See more »

Goofs

When Ferdinando gets in bed with Rosalia after their fight, Rosalia's head facings change significantly between shots. See more »

Connections

References Tarzan Finds a Son! (1939) See more »

Soundtracks

Una furtiva lacrima
from opera "L'elisir d'amore"
Music by Gaetano Donizetti
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Lolita, Italian Style
19 February 2013 | by (USA) – See all my reviews

Divorzio all'Italiana (in English, Divorce Italian Style) is a 1961 comedy directed by Pietro Germi and starring Marcello Mastroianni and Stefania Sandrelli. It was based on the novel by Giovanni Arpino called Un Delitto D'Onore. Divorce Italian Style was extremely successful at its release, gaining a lot of attention not only in Italy but all over the world: It also received three Oscar nominations, and won one, for best Screenplay.

In a small and simple Sicilian town, there lives an upper class family, the Cefalu' family: the main man is perennially bored Ferdinando, who is becoming more and more irritated by his wife Rosalia, and is falling in love with his cousin, sixteen-year-old Angela. He decides that he'll murder the wife, but he first needs to assemble a crime scene where it looks as if the wife was cheating on him. Ferdinando is able to find the male that is in love with her secretly, and tries in all his power to organize a moment where his wife and him can be alone and get something started.

Mastroianni once again is extraordinary and very comical as well; his character remains unforgettable thanks to his strange mouth tick, his lifeless gaze and his snobby, haughty attitude. He's the one that really makes the experience of watching the film great, and also makes the overall story more interesting than what it really is. But not all credit goes to the main actor: director Pietro Germi gives a touch of madness, obsession and grotesquery to the plan and to the mind of Ferdinando, especially in the fantasies the protagonist has about a lawyer speaking in court in defense of him, or about all the different ways his wife can wind up dead.

There are several reasons for the film's success, especially in Italy: it was a movie that perfectly reflected the sense of humor of the times, and also brought to screen a familiar theme, which was extramarital affairs and uxoricide; that is, because divorce back in 1961 was in Italy illegal. It's also a funny and successful satire, touching points on the Sicilian upper class mentality and lifestyle, but especially, the ridiculously old fashioned laws that were still current at that time, more in particular the honor killing law, which was the law thanks to which Ferdinando could have got away with his crime with a small penalty. Furthermore, there is a sort of Lolita-influenced story, being Ferdinando's ultimate motive a sixteen year old he wants to be with.

It's comically black, but there's such a pleasant lightness to Divorce Italian Style, that it's hard not to feel entertained. It's not a masterwork, nor an immense landmark in Italian film, but it has made its history as a successful Satire/Black Comedy made in Italy, and still remains somewhat of a gem even for non-Italian viewers.


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