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Enrico Maria Salerno
I almost recused myself from reviewing this film, as I've never enjoyed the work of "comedian from the South" Lando Buzzanca, who starred in many a drive-in stinker I sat through in the '70s. But since no one has chimed in at all, here goes.
THE SLAVE astounded me as to its unrelenting tastelessness, even in a genre known for its low humor -the latter-day Italian sex comedy. Most interesting result is seeing at least one Continental comedy (alongside many incest offerings) that definitely won't get the Adam Sandler, Jim Carrey or dreaded Chris Rock remake treatment.
Buzzanca, boorish and irritating rather than funny from the git-go, is the owner of a Fiat dealership in Palermo who is fed up with his "ballbreaker" of a wife, played by very lovely Catherine Spaak, who was a real European star at the time this desultory film was shot.
Weird premise has him hearing of a German creep (very well played by B movie great Gordon Mitchell, almost stealing the movie) who sells human slaves down in Argentina. Lando wings down there to buy one - a beautiful woman who will feed his massive ego and solve his problem of having to deal with trendy "emancipated" females. Chris Rock -I dare you to try and get away with that level of misogyny!
Before the gimmick moves into high gear in the second half of the movie we have to suffer through endless slapstick, scored to "Muppets" type comical music. Lando is carrying on an affair with luscious redheaded MILF Adriana Asti (a first-rate Italian actress, slumming here -she was working for the very best directors in Europe, like Visconti, Pasolini, Bunuel, Bertolucci and De Sica). Both Asti's and Spaak's beauty helps divert one from Lando's unfunny antics front & center.
The slave Malua he buys turns out to be Caucasian, as the filmmakers apparently drew the line at out & out racism (I would have preferred that they go whole hog). She's played by 1-shot actress Veronica Merin, quite beautiful and topless in nearly every scene. I suspect the general awfulness of this project doomed her career.
The reactions back home in Palermo to the slave are predictable, as Lando flaunts her, especially to his understandably envious buddies. The Asti subplot is kept going artificially and film climaxes when Lando's obviously illegal and downright nauseating behavior gets him in trouble with the police.
Key scene from director Giorgio Capitani (who with better scripts made a few winners, notably I HATE BLONDES and the tough Western THE RUTHLESS FOUR), has Malua running through downtown Palermo pulling a rickshaw containing smug Lando. It was evidently shot guerrilla-style, with extras waving at the camera, and some shocked at the stunt. It typifies the fact that the entire film was kind of a stunt -examining how low comedy can go and still remain palatable. Recall this is long before the Farrelly Brothers and others moved gross-out humor to a central position in the so-called "entertainment" spectrum.
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