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Although we must appreciate the effort done by Bruno Corbucci to recreate Rome's early 20th atmosphere, the movie rests on one huge, incoherent flaw. Set in Rome, with popular characters such as fish-monger Nino or butchers (the Di Lorenzo bros) in the leading roles, one cannot understand why the leading role of Nino is being played by a Milan native, that is Adriano Celentano. For instance, Celentano tries his best to mimic roman slang or accent but he miserably fails. It would be like having a native new yorker playing an Australian guy, in terms of accent. Anyhow, the film has some remarkable highlights, revolving around the story of fish-monger Nino, Er Più (i.e. "The Most", no adjectives required) of Rione Borgo. He is in love with Rosa but he always manages to postpone their wedding. Meanwhile, also Augustarello strives for Rosa's love, only to be constantly rejected. When things get nasty, Augustarello's brother Bartolo, Er Più of S. Giovanni neighbourhood intervenes, to settle things out with an epic knife-fight. The film is indeed an accurate picture of roman popular life in those days, where things were often settled out with violence and knives. An honorable mention goes to the including of MardiGras ceremonies and of the infamous Passatella, a "game" which actually consisted in just drinking wine, and where the aim was to leave just one of the participants without drinking one single drop of wine (this was considered as a big disrespect). Actually, this is the turnaround of the movie, where things between Nino and Augustarello get hectic. Also very accurate is the reconstruction of a knife-fight and his paraphernalia, including the particular honour-code which ruled the lives of early 20th century neighbourhood bosses. Then again, one cannot help but wonder why director Corbucci picked Celentano for the role, when brilliant roman actor would have perfectly fitted in.
Though it doesn't seem to have had much, if any, English language
distribution, this is one of the best pieces from Italian mega star
Celantano (he did the first number in DOLCE VITA) and director Corbucci, the
Italian Sam Fuller.
Possibly influenced by Fellini ROMA, it is quite ambitiously staged, with a constructed street complete with train. The conflict between the butchers and fish mongers, with cop Valli trying to keep the lid on is played for laughs. Mori (Mrs. Celantano) and her method of breaking up the fight are nice and the scene of heavy featured Adriano looking for a bigger fish is one of the best laughs I know. OK Roman fountain finale.
Innovative touches, like the deceptive end to the stills sequence titles. Good production values and Rustichelli score.
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