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Playing Tim Lucas's great commentary for Mario Bava's I tre volti della paura/ Black Sabbath,I found out that film maker Michelangelo Antonioni had paid homage to Bava by directing (along with Mauro Bolognini & Franco Indovina) an anthology movie named after Bava's epic.Due to Antonioni being a "big name",I went on Amazon Uk to order a DVD,and was shocked to find no sign of the film! After none of the DVD sellers I know were able to track it down,I searched around for info,and found out that the lead star (and former Iranian royal) Princess Soraya owned the lone surviving copy-after her husband had ordered all copies to be destroyed,which led to me giving up on ever seeing the film.
Checking my E-Mails,I was left completely speechless,when a DVD seller revealed that he had tracked down a copy of the title,with English subtitles!,which led to me getting ready to finally see the three faces of Princess Soraya.
Note:Due to there being 3 stories,I am going to split the plot into 3 sections.
Part 1:Il provino.
As a newspaper gets set to print its morning edition,a reporter learns that Iranian royal Princess Soraya is going to audition at De Laurentiis studios.Spotting the reporters hanging round outside the studio,producer Dino De Laurentiis begins to make plans for Soraya to enter the studio right under the reporters nose.
Part 2:Gli amanti celebri.
Four years since he wrote his award-winning, "the great novel" Robert has suffered from writers block in writing a follow up.As Robert has hit dead ends,his wife Linda has stepped into the limelight,with the paparazzi desperate to get a snap of Linda everywhere. Invited to give an award that he received in the past,Robert begins to look at the attention that Linda is getting with jealousy.
Part 3:Latin Lover
Visiting Italy for business, Mrs. Melville discovers that her partner is delayed and has not reached the country.With Melville being on her own,a stranger arranges for her to be entertained by a professional "Latin lover." Meeting Melville, Armando Tucci begins to fear that he is about to lose his "Latin Lover" tag,when Melville ignores all of his advances.
View on the film:
Kicking the film off with style, Antonioni gives his segment Il provino an earthy atmosphere,as Antonioni's lingering whip-pans display the cold,isolated world of the studio.Entering the studios,Antonioni keeps the sight of Soraya & the film makers tightly coiled in the corners of the studio,which give the film a strikingly intimate feeling of dropping in on the behind the scenes dramas of a film set.Sanding down the rough,gritty edges of Antonioni's intro, Mauro Bolognini treats his segment Gli amanti celebri with lavish golds and reds,which open up the royal circles that Linda is entering,and the dour outer world that Robert is left behind in. Finishing the movie on a sweet note,director Franco Indovina wraps elegant,spinning shots around his Latin Lover segment,which perfectly captures the breezy mood that Tucci is trying to create.
Given the challenge of placing Soraya at the centre of each story,the screenplay by Clive Exton/Franco Indovina/Tullio Pinelli/Rodolfo Sonego & Alberto Sordi link each segment up with a subtle underlying theme,as the men in each story fail/do not want to accept that Soraya is more powerful then them.Keeping the movie away from going dry,the writers splash glamorous set piece comedy across the title,which goes from Robert's award speech,to the "Latin Lover" finally getting his farewell kiss.
Although he missed out the chance to reunite with Antonioni,Richarrd Harris gives a wonderful performance as Robert,with Harris wide-eyes opening Robert's desperation to keep a grip on all the praise he's received wide open.Running across the screen, Alberto Sordi gives a fantastic performance as Tucci,with Sordi making each of his very funny,flirty one liners bounce.Whilst she has an air of being reserved,the beautiful Princess Soraya displays a perfect light touch for comedy,with Soraya giving her exchanges with Sordi a sweet playfulness,which is joined by a delicate feeling of closeness in Il provino,and a brittle sternness in Gli amanti celebri ,as the directors show the three faces of Princess Soraya.
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