IMDb > The Canterbury Tales (1972)
I racconti di Canterbury
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The Canterbury Tales (1972) More at IMDbPro »I racconti di Canterbury (original title)

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Release Date:
30 May 1980 (USA) See more »
Pasolini's artistic, sometimes violent, always vividly cinematic retelling of some of Chaucer's most erotic tales. | Add synopsis »
1 win See more »
User Reviews:
a crude, crazy, beautifully shot episodic satire with a few unforgettable scenes See more (25 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Hugh Griffith ... Sir January
Laura Betti ... The Wife from Bath

Ninetto Davoli ... Perkin

Franco Citti ... The Devil
Josephine Chaplin ... May
Alan Webb ... Old Man

Pier Paolo Pasolini ... Geoffrey Chaucer
J.P. Van Dyne ... The Cook

Vernon Dobtcheff ... The Franklin
Adrian Street ... Fighter
O.T. ... Chief Witch-Hunter (as OT)
Derek Deadman ... The Pardoner (as Derek Deadmin)
Nicholas Smith ... Friar
George Bethell Datch ... Host of the Tabard (as George B. Datch)
Dan Thomas ... Nicholas
Michael Balfour ... John the carpenter

Jenny Runacre ... Alison
Peter Cain ... Absalom
Daniele Buckler ... Witch Hunter (as Daniel Buckler)
John Francis Lane ... Greedy friar
Settimo Castagna ... Angel (as Settimio Castagna)
Athol Coats ... Rich homosexual
Judy Stewart-Murray ... Alice

Tom Baker ... Jenkin
Oscar Fochetti ... Damian
Willoughby Goddard ... Placebo
Peter Stephens ... Justinus
Giuseppe Arrigio ... Pluto (as Giuseppe Arrigo)
Elisabetta Genovese ... Prosperine
Gordon King ... Chancellor
Patrick Duffett ... Alan
Eamann Howell ... John
Tiziano Longo ... Simkin the miller (as Albert King)
Eileen King ... Simkin's wife
Heather Johnson ... Molly

Robin Askwith ... Rufus (as Robin Asquith)
Martin Whelar ... Jack the Justice
John McLaren ... Johnny the Grace
Edward Monteith ... Dick the Sparrow
Kervin Breen
Franca Sciutto
Vittorio Fanfoni
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Leonard S. Brooks ... Businessman (uncredited)
Stephen Calcutt ... The Groom (uncredited)

Philip Davis ... 2nd homosexual lover (uncredited)
Charles De la Tour ... Inn-keeper (uncredited)
Francis De Wolff ... The Bride's father (uncredited)
Michael Derrek ... Robin (uncredited)
Andrew Dymock ... Bill (uncredited)
V. Edwards ... The Old Woman (uncredited)
Dorothy Everall ... Perkin's mother (uncredited)
Diana Fisher ... The Bride (uncredited)
Chris Greener ... Sir Elephant (uncredited)
David Hatton ... Poor homosexual (uncredited)
Judo Al Hayes ... Fighter (uncredited)
Terry Hooper ... L'allodoliere (uncredited)
Robert Brook Howard ... Vicar of the Monestary (uncredited)
Karl Howman ... 1st homosexual lover (uncredited)
Richard Hughes ... Administrator (uncredited)
Laurie Inch ... Mary (uncredited)
Charlotte Kell ... The Prioress (uncredited)
Pinky Martin ... The Nun (uncredited)
Alan McConnell ... Master Gervaso (uncredited)
Norman McGlen ... Perkin's father (uncredited)
Peter McGregor ... The Merchant (uncredited)
Hugh McKenzie-Bailey ... Thomas (uncredited)
Roderick McLeod ... Knight's Attendant (uncredited)
Anthony Moore ... The Spy (uncredited)
Ken Muggleston ... Doctor (uncredited)
Patrick Newell ... Prior (uncredited)
Ray Parks ... Sergeant (uncredited)
Martin Philips ... Martin (uncredited)
Selwyn Roberts ... The Knight (uncredited)
Anita Sanders ... Thomas' wife (uncredited)
Mary Stuart ... Priest (uncredited)
Reg Stuart ... 4th Husband (uncredited)
Steve Whitton ... Youth Without Name (uncredited)

Directed by
Pier Paolo Pasolini 
Writing credits
Pier Paolo Pasolini (screenplay)

Geoffrey Chaucer (book of short stories: The Canterbury Tales) (as G. Chaucer)

Produced by
Alberto Grimaldi .... producer
Original Music by
Ennio Morricone  (as Mº Ennio Morricone)
Cinematography by
Tonino Delli Colli 
Film Editing by
Nino Baragli 
Production Design by
Dante Ferretti 
Set Decoration by
Ken Muggleston 
Costume Design by
Danilo Donati 
Makeup Department
Giancarlo De Leonardis .... key hair stylist
Giancarlo De Leonardis .... wig maker
Otello Sisi .... makeup artist
Production Management
Ennio Onorati .... production manager
Alessandro von Norman .... production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Umberto Angelucci .... assistant director
Sergio Citti .... assistant director
Peter Shepherd .... assistant director
Art Department
Carlo Agati .... assistant designer
Sound Department
Massimo Anzellotti .... sound effects editor
Gianni D'Amico .... sound mixer
Luciano Muratori .... boom operator
Primiano Muratori .... sound engineer
Special Effects by
Luciano Anzellotti .... special effects
Camera and Electrical Department
Mimmo Cattarinich .... still photographer
Maurizio Lucchini .... assistant camera
Claudio Sabatini .... assistant camera
Carlo Tafani .... camera operator
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Vanni Castellani .... assistant costume designer
Editorial Department
Stephen Bearman .... colorist
Anita Cacciolati .... assistant editor
Ugo De Rossi .... assistant editor
Music Department
Ennio Morricone .... music advisor (as Mº Ennio Morricone)
Pier Paolo Pasolini .... music supervisor (as P.P. Pasolini)
Other crew
Beatrice Banfi .... secretary
Adriano Magistretti .... English production coordinator
Anthony Moore .... production coordinator: UK
Ken Muggleston .... interior designer
Peter Shepherd .... assistant to director
Franca Tasso .... production secretary
Marco Bellocchio .... voice dubbing: John Francis Lane (uncredited)
Eduardo De Filippo .... voice dubbing: Alan Webb (uncredited)
Francesco Leonetti .... voice dubbing: George Bethell Datch (uncredited)

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"I racconti di Canterbury" - Italy (original title)
See more »
Argentina:112 min | USA:109 min (cut) | Italy:112 min | West Germany:140 min (Berlin Film Festival) (premiere) | France:118 min
Color (Technicolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.75 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Argentina:18 | Australia:R | Canada:16+ (Quebec) | Finland:K-18 (DVD rating) (2004) | Finland:K-15 (cinema release) (1973) | France:18 | Ireland:18 | Italy:VM18 (original rating) | Italy:VM14 (re-rating) (1988) | Netherlands:18 (orginal rating) | New Zealand:R18 | New Zealand:R16 (re-rating) (2002) | Norway:18 | Portugal:M/16 | Spain:18 | Sweden:15 | UK:X (original rating) (cut) | UK:15 (video rating) (uncut) (2001) | USA:X (original rating) | USA:NC-17 (re-rating) (1991) | West Germany:16

Did You Know?

The second film in director Pier Paolo Pasolini's "Trilogy of Life", following The Decameron (1971) and concluding with Arabian Nights (1974).See more »
Perkin's mother:[singing] Oh, there was a little beggar man that goes from town to town, and wherever he get a job and work he's willing to sit down.See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in Adjust Your Tracking (2013)See more »


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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful.
a crude, crazy, beautifully shot episodic satire with a few unforgettable scenes, 22 July 2010
Author: MisterWhiplash from United States

Pier Paolo Pasolini, to my estimation so far from films I've seen (which have been most of his oeuvre), wasn't a genius, at least not entirely. He could fall flat on his face or just stick his pretentious tail out too far into the wind. But he was an artist, and with his subjects he had something to say whether you liked it or not. So is the way with The Canterbury Tales, which I've been told is apart of a "trilogy of life" (along with the good Decameron and the near-masterpiece Arabian Nights), and like those films it's a narrative that is precisely loose and episodic, and the subject matter is like a Monty Python film that takes its craft seriously but still knows when to go in for the bizarre humor. Or sometimes not. Or sometimes it just doesn't work.

I never read the Chaucer Tales that are so renown to scholars and school-kids alike, but the stories in the film seem to reflect as much of its filmmaker as it does its author, if not more so. We get stories of lust and adultery and greed and ignorance in medieval, rural England. Not much time for a lot of the mythical aspects (though from time to time they are there), and there's a boatload of time for bawdy and crude comedy. One of the highlights is a scene where a young man has just finished sleeping with a woman (both very nude, it is NC-17 England and all), and the guy's friend is standing outside the window to get a kiss. She decides to give him one, her ass and a big fart right at his face. But he returns with a red hot poker and asks so nicely to get a kiss again, this time his friend's turn to give a fart, and thus get a red hot poker at his private area. So yeah, comedy like that.

Some scenes kind of meld into others, as the stories continue on with middle aged fat men who want their women and are joyful and mean in equal measure (one guy sings and amuses his woman, though she'd rather have the company of a younger man), while another man keeps trying to have his way with another maiden, a big phallus sticking right in his pants (again, NC-17). The downside to a lot of the film is that Pasolini, for all of his elegant artistry in composing shots in these rundown and rural places and in the fields of England (with DP Tonini Delli Colli), he can't really direct most of his cast well. Sometimes his use of non-professionals can work, but it doesn't help in this case that a large majority of the cast speak English, and are dubbed (Pasolini's films in general don't have live sound recorded), and some of the actors like the Fool who impresses with his capability of outrunning authorities and spilling eggs that don't break are just smiling idiots that can't act well.

That is, with some exceptions. Or rather, a bizarre exception. Tom Baker, who some of you may recall (or love) from his stint as a Doctor Who in the 1970's, appears in one of the stories. It's kind of a shock to even see him; he appears completely naked as a sexually frustrated housewife looks through a peephole, and he appears (we haven't seen his face until then) in a full 70's porno mustache and his usual wide-eyed demeanor. He also gets some other 'pleasure' in a field scene, which is also rather crazy to see, if only from the only former association with him being Doctor Who, and then another scene where he gets to overact reading from a book to the sexually frustrated housewife. It's a remarkably wild story and featuring the actor becomes more than just a curio. Ditto to the finale of the film, where we see Chaucer (who also appears during the film sometimes as the 'author' of these stories) delight in showing Satan and his minions defecating all over the place. It's like the South Park answer to Salo.

It's a film that is loaded with creative visuals, some striking Ennio Morricone music, and some really juvenile humor, not to mention the bad dubbing and hit-or-miss "acting" by the mostly non-professionals. But what carries it is the director's dedication to his vision, and the fun he's having with Chaucer and his own view on the decay and rampant sexual energy of the populous.

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