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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.



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Won 1 Oscar. Another 11 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Carmelo Patanè
Odoardo Spadaro ...
Don Gaetano Cefalù
Margherita Girelli ...
Angela Cardile ...
Rosario Mulè
Pietro Tordi ...
Attorney De Marzi
Ugo Torrente ...
Don Calogero
Antonio Acqua ...
Bianca Castagnetta ...
Donna Matilde Cefalù
Giovanni Fassiolo ...
Don Ciccio Matara
Ignazio Roberto Daidone
Francesco Nicastro


Ferdinando Cefalù is desperate to marry his cousin, Angela, but he is married to Rosalia and divorce is illegal in Italy. To get around the law, he tries to trick his wife into having an affair so he can catch her and murder her, as he knows he would be given a light sentence for killing an adulterous woman. He persuades a painter to lure his wife into an affair, but Rosalia proves to be more faithful than he expected. Written by Jwelch5742

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The cutest comedy import in a long time!!! See more »


Comedy | Drama | Romance


Not Rated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

17 September 1962 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Divorce Italian Style  »

Company Credits

Show more on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Co. System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The young girl whom Ferdinando checks out on the train at the beginning is Stefania Sandrelli, who also plays the character Angela in the film. See more »


When Ferdinando writes the anonymous letter to himself, the picture he draws is completely different between shots regarding the antlers and the pen's thickness. See more »


Referenced in Bewitched: Business, Italian Style (1967) See more »


Una furtiva lacrima
from opera "L'elisir d'amore"
Music by Gaetano Donizetti
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User Reviews

27 August 2008 | by See all my reviews

Definitely a classic film, but not just an Italian classic! "Divorzio all'italiana" centers itself around Ferdinando Cefalù (Mastroianni), a 37 year old baron in a small town. Although he's a baron, his life is not completely perfect as his father has squandered much of their money, and his extremely clingy wife Rosalia stands between him and the only thing he loves, his 16 year old cousin Angela. To add salt to the wound, 1960's Italy does not allow couples to divorce, which leads Ferdinando to seek desperate measures. After a town scandal erupts, when a woman murders her cheating husband to protect her honor, Ferdinando is inspired to set up his wife with a lover in order to kill her and "protect his honor." The rest of the movie chronicles Ferdinando's attempts to find someone who would fit the bill.

"Divorzio all'italiana" is a satirical look at Italian society and its seemingly backward laws which force people to do stupid things and its fallibility at justice. In its social commentary of Italian laws/society, Concini, Germi, and Giannetti (the writers) create well fitted, stereotypical characters that are much needed in order for the message of the film to get across. Ferdinando plays the evil nobleman, Rosalia as the annoying wife, Angela as the desirable secret teen lover, etc. The beauty of the story not only lies in it's scathingly funny humor, with Ferdinando's clever plotting and hallucinations of killing his wife, but also in its ability to transcend time. Nowadays there are no laws that forbid divorce in most societies, but even though that crucial point does not relate to modern audiences, the film is still able to conjure emotions for the characters' plight. Another great thing about the film, is the idea of a protagonist character with typically antagonist characteristics. Ferdinando is definitely a bad man, but the story plays with the audience in making them want Ferdinando to succeed in his plot. To add to the underlying theme of the film, the failure of Italian laws, is the theme of "justice" whether it be from the law or from a simple reversal of fate. Definitely watch the film up to the very end, as it closes with an ironic yet justified twist of fate for the characters involved.

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