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This is an amusing Italian comedy set in Italy in the year 1500. It is adapted from a story by Machiavelli. Callimaco is a young man who is enraptured by the beautiful Lucrezia, who happens to be a married woman. He enlists his friends and the greedy bodyguard of the household to help him gain entrance to Lucrezia's bed. This involves an elaborate ruse involving duping the husband (who is frustrated by Lucrezia's infertility) into believing that an extraction from a particular plant with a root in the shape of a man and a romp in bed with the town idiot will solve the problem. Guess who is going to masquerade as the town idiot? This is lusty Italian comedy and much fun. Mastroianni was born to play the lead but here it is essayed by a handsome young actor who provides both romantic and comic enjoyment (Philippe Leroy). The comedian, Toto, a combination of Buster Keaton and Alistair Sim, steals all of his scenes as the town Friar. The film quite deservedly was Oscar nominated for Costume Design (it's quite accurate as well as being stylish) but also deserved a nod for its excellent cinematography (beautifully composed frames). This is one film that is nearly forgotten. After its initial release here it never appeared on video or television. The print I saw was one that originated in Italy in the PAL format. Very worth a look - nothing lasting but certainly an enjoyable romp.
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