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Pasquale Festa Campanile
Enrico Maria Salerno,
You can tell this movie is set in the middle ages by the nerve-wrecking choir chanting la-la-la over the credits, a theme that returns all through the film and actually makes some sort of sense if you make it all the way to the end. Not that this makes it any less annoying. Another flabbergasting film trick director Pasquale Festa Campanile uses several times (starting with the first scene) is a lack of anything else but music on the soundtrack in key scenes: the actors' mouths are moving, but nothing's coming out. This happens three times over the course of "La Calandria" and may be to emphasis the importance of these scenes, or else it's just there to cover up some unfunny dialog. Lando Buzzanca stars as Lidio, caught in the act by Barbara Bouchet's jealous husband and sentenced to be put in the scaffolding. Then the dialog kicks in. Luckily he has a sidekick to take care of little things like feeding him, keeping his hair tidy and giving him a shave).
After a passionate speech, the notorious medieval wife-magnet is freed by his captor to settle a bet that soon finds him back on his adulterous ways, out to add young Fulvia (Agostina Belli), trophy wife of the Duke of Ferruccio to his list of conquests. Robbing a governess on the way, he arrives at the Duke's dressed in drag and introduces himself as Madonna Aurora. Now believe me: Lando is a handsome guy, but he makes for a dog ugly woman. And that's an insult to dogs everywhere. But guess what: the old man immediately falls for Aurora, the new Lady in Waiting. Soon 'La Callandria' is sowing the young maidens clothes and scrubbing her back while furiously waving a fan while Fulvia prances around in various states of undress. It's the kind of story Benny Hill based half his material on.
In no time Lidio finds himself servicing not only the young girl, but the rest of the castle's female staff as well. When old grand-mama find him without his wig and makeup, he gets out of it by pretending to be Aurora's brother, leading to one of those improbable quick change sequences that defies the laws of physics (not to mention the art of applying and removing make-up). To complicate things even more still, Barbara Bouchet (who is given very little to do) and her Demis Roussos lookalike husband arrive on the scene to stretch the plot some more. But it gets worse: soon the old man is dressed in drag as well thanks to his inventor adviser Ruffo. This gives way to a slapstick sequence that is more unpleasant than funny and a cruel ending that's sure to hit any aspiring adulterer watching where it hurts the most. Makes you wonder who's side the writers were on in the first place.
5 out of 10
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