THE CHASTITY BELT (Pasquale Festa Campanile, 1967) **
Comic medieval romp which, as can be surmised from the title, concerns the battle of the sexes; not bad overall, but not sufficiently inspired either (despite willing performers and interesting credits while an Italian production, the script was co-written by Larry Gelbart!).
The film is generally entertaining, flavorful, even mildly saucy and, yet, emerges as a somewhat hit-or-miss affair with at least as many flat spots as bright ones (the latter thanks largely to the delightful presence, in both senses of the word, of Monica Vitti even though, in retrospect, her modern style of acting seems incongruous within this particular milieu!). The male lead is played by Tony Curtis spoofing his own image in Hollywood films of this type (incidentally, I should be watching him presently in THE BLACK SHIELD OF FALWORTH ). Also in the cast is Englishman John Richardson (a "Euro-Cult" regular during this era) as an errant knight who loses a contest with Vitti (disguised as one herself in an attempt to reach Curtis, currently engaged in Holy War) and thus sworn to undying loyalty even if he's himself eventually revealed to be royalty operating incognito! Nino Castelnuovo appears as Curtis' jovial yet frustrated squire since the latter is seen exercising his droit de seigneur with the ladies at every opportunity, leaving Castelnuovo "the leftovers"! Towards the end of the film, Hugh Griffith also pops in for an unremarkable bit as a Muslim who abducts both Curtis and Vitti to his palace one to convert to Islam, the other to add to his harem.
Buoyed by a lively Riz Ortolani score, this takes a light comedy approach to the subject matter wherein Curtis and Vitti's consummation of their relationship is continually thwarted either by tradition, exigencies of State, or their own selfish pride. Even when the two have finally made up and are willing to honor their marital vows, they first lose the key to the chastity belt and, when eventually retrieved, discover that it has been exchanged with that belonging to the Empress herself!
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