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Divorce Italian Style (1961)

Divorzio all'italiana (original title)
Not Rated | | Comedy, Drama, Romance | 17 September 1962 (USA)
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.

Director:

Writers:

(story), (story) | 4 more credits »
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 11 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
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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

Stefania Sandrelli had problem crying in the scene where Marcello Mastroianni got spat on for being a cuckold by Carmelo Patanè's wife. After many wasted takes and having been prompted by an onlooker, Pietro Germi with an unlit half cigar in his mouth got up from his chair, walked over to her and gave her two good slaps. Sandrelli was embarrassed because she had been slapped in front of hundreds of people really did begin crying and the the scene was finally shot. See more »

Goofs

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

Connections

Referenced in L'uomo dal sigaro in bocca (1997) See more »

Soundtracks

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

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User Reviews

 
Masterpiece
16 April 2006 | by (Rome, Italy) – See all my reviews

This movie got an Oscar for the script (among the others, by Pietro Germi, the gifted director). However, the real importance of this movie can be demonstrated by saying that an entire genre, "la commedia all'italiana" (Comedy, Italian style) is named after this movie.

A major issue of this genre is to make fun of our traditions and culture (I am Italian) despite the radical changes our Country was having during those years ('60s, '70s).

The main issue of Neo-realism (Rossellini, De Sica, Visconti) was to describe the tragic reality of miserable lives after the catastrophic WWII. Then the Italian economic boom of the '50s drove Italy into modernity and wellness. Commedia all'italiana wanted to remind us that despite this modernity we are always the same Italians we were before, with all our intelligence but also with all our defects.

"Divorce, Italian Style" is set in the most 'conservative' place of Italy of that time, where traditions like family honor were still predominant despite all modernity. In the first shots of the movie we see an environment suffocated by the heat of the Sicilian climate. People spend part of the day in their apartments waiting for the cool evening. This motionless environment is highly metaphoric, as it shows that nothing really changes in this land, suffocated by the weight of old traditions. Probably this is not so true today, but at that time certainly was.

However, don't be scared by this introduction. The movie is FUN and it turns into a fast-paced rhythm shortly.

The protagonist loves his cousin and wants to marry her, but he is already married. So he plans to murder the wife, pretending to do that for a 'legitimate' defence of honor. What is amazing is that all the village, all the people in the movie support murder for the honor of the family. They even induce him to kill. And what is sad, is that the law at that time was really soft for those types of murders.

To summarize this movie has these characteristics: 1) VERY FUN. You can't stop laughing even if the script is tragic (this is a characteristic of masterpieces) 2) WELL ACTED: Marcello Mastroianni gives one of his best performances. Stefania Sandrelli is beautiful as ever, Marcello's wife is ugly and a nuisance as her role imposes, and Leopoldo Trieste is another great actor of Italian cinema.

3) WONDERFUL STORY: the script won the Oscar and it is truly very intelligent 4) SOCIALLY COMMITTED: it is an accusation of a wrong law that supports a wrong tradition (the law was changed shortly after).

I give this masterpiece a 10 out of 10, and I strongly recommend it to everyone.


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