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Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell (1968) - Plot Summary Poster

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Summaries

  • Twenty years after their initial war-time visit three U.S. servicemen hold a reunion at an Italian village. They all have fond memories, especially of local girl Carla. But she has been telling each of them that they are the father of her daughter Gia, so they have all been paying well for her upbringing. As this dawns on the threesome old rivalries surface, but times have changed and complications such as wives, middle-age, and the need to protect Gia's future start to surface.

  • Carla Campbell receives maintenance payment from three former soldiers who all believe themselves to be the father of her daughter, Gia.


Spoilers

The synopsis below may give away important plot points.

Synopsis

  • Carla Campbell (Gina Lollobrigida), a young, attractive widow, goes back to her village after a short stay with her sister, who had suffered from a slight illness. There, he learns that some American soldiers who stayed in the town during IIWW will come back soon. Inexplicably, she gets frantic.

    Finally at home, she starts plotting so that her only daughter, Gia (Janet Margolin), who is expected to be returning home from her Swedish boarding school in a short time, stays at the boarding school for the summer. But it's too late, because Gia is already on her way home. Back home, Carla reads her mail. She disregards notices, bills and so on, focusing on three letters from the USA.

    Carla admits to her maid and friend Rosa (Naomi Stevens) what had really happened. When she was young, she felt lonely and sad, so she consolled herself with three different American soldiers - Phil Newman (Phil Silvers), Walter Braddock (Telly Savalas) and Justin Young (Peter Lawford), dedicating a week to each one and having one sexual relation with each of them. She never knew which one of them was the actual father of her child, so she decided to write to each one of them telling that Gia was his child. They have been sending Carla money to take care of Gia. Now, the three of them are going to visit Carla and want to meet Gia for the first time.

    Her plot to keep Gia away has failed. The three men arrive at Carla's with minutes of one another, but she succeeds in hiding each one from the rest although several funny situations happen. At the welcome-back dance, the three men see Gia for the first time. Gia and Justin have the time to talk to each other while dancing, but she still doesn't know that any of them is supposed to be her father. At that dance, Shirley Newman, (Shelley Winters), the talkative and good-hearted wife of Phil, decides to make an extra homage party dedicated to the late husband of Mrs Campbell, an alleged army lieutenant called Eddie Campbell, whom nobody seems to remember, but who nobody admits out loud not to remember.

    This makes Carla even more hysterical. At the same time, pressure heightens, as on top of it all, Gia tells her mother that she is in love with a married man, an architect who is moving to Brazil and has asked her to run away with him, because he doesn't want to get divorced. Carla says it'll be a great mistake on Gia's part, because she deserves a man of her own. Carla is afraid that that man will eventually get tired of Gia, leaving her as a prostitute in a faraway country. Vittorio (Phillipe Leroy), a man who drives Carla's van and takes care of her business, the renown wineries Carla Campbell, tries to help Carla. Carla and Vittorio have been in love for many years, but they have a kind of love-hate relationship, which doesn't allow them to settle down and marry one another.

    While Shirley believes all her husband's excuses, the two other wives, rude blonde, stripper-like Fritzie Braddock (Lee Grant) and snobbish Lauren Young (Marian McCargo-Moses) are not so gullible. The three of them and Carla meet at the hairdresser's, and they talk of having tea together at the Countess' castle. The Countess (Giovanna Galletti) has always disliked Carla, shunning her from the village's social life, although Carla is well-off because of the money she receives from the three men. The Countess is the only person who has always suspected that Carla is not the honest widow she pretends to be. Carla would prefer not to go to the tea party, but she is unable to refuse in the face of Shirley's insistence . At the same time, Carla expects the Countess to finally accept her as an equal lady. That is not to be, as in another fun scene the Countess gives signs for the musicians to play louder so that no one will hear Carla's speech.

    At that tea party, the three wives talk among themselves, while outside the three husbands are also talking among themselves. The three wives, looking for the truth, confront their husbands, and all six realize the deceit that Carla has played on the men, and that the men have played on their wives.

    Gia has also learnt everything: she saw all the money her mother has been receiving from the three men along the years, all written down in a book in the bank. That's the final push she needs to leave her rural life to live with her married architect. Gia and Carla have a big row, and Gia leaves. Gia is so excited and angry, that she has a car accident. She runs into a hospital, crashing the car into the hospital ward. (All the roads in the film are thin, curvy and made of cubblestone, which makes it very difficult to drive around.) Vittorio talks to Carla, and she leaves everything at once to assist her daughter. By the time she arrives, all three of Gina's possible fathers are talking with her as she packs to leave the hospital. The three fathers convince Gia that she needs to stay in school, not run away with a married man.

    At the end, Gia promises not to run to her married lover. The Newmans promise to treat Gia as their own daughter (they can't have any children of their own) and to pay all of Gia's university expenses at the USA, where she will study the following year. The Countess is furious, because she could not expose Carla openly, although it's understood that she will keep on excluding Carla from her flamboyant social life, and the special party and mass in honour of the late lieutenant Eddie Campbell goes smoothly. Carla will not receive money from any of the three men anymore, but after she has the opportunity to explain her reasons, each one of the fathers decides to let things be, and none sue Carla for the money she tricked them into paying.

    Carla and Vittorio had broken up -she had fired him, treating him unfairly-, only to re-start their love-hate relationship at the end of the film with another row, showing that, although Gia's life is going to change a lot, and none of the three men will ever return to the Italian village, Carla's life will go on as it used to - as it SHOULD be.

    --synopsis written by KrystelClaire

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