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Worth seeing - rich, if black comedy. Colorful images of Napoli and plenty of witty dialogue.
Having first seen the black comedy Mi Manda Picone not long after it won best foreign film at Cannes in 1884 (I am pretty sure it did, but I am writing this 16 years after the fact), I was left with an indelible impression on my movie senses.
There is no question in my mind that this was one of the greatest Italian film comedies of all time. The storyline involves a petty crook, Salvatore Cannavacciuolo, finding a book of names that belonged to a recently deceased protection-racketeer named Picone.
The plot takes a million twists and turns as our hero passes himself off as Picone's representative in order to pocket the protection money from various small businesses in Napoli.
There is evidence of great pathos as well as the humor, as his relationship with a young prostitute develops, whilst they both are sleeping on a mattress in a condemned inner-city slum. Tensions rise as Salvatore gets sucked deeper and deeper into the dirty world of the Napoletana Camorra gangs, whilst continuing to bluff the unsuspecting shopkeepers, occasionally landing headfirst in the Bay of Naples...
This film is particularly attractive to Italian speakers, especially those who understand Neapolitan dialect, as the language is rich, thick and amusing. Other viewers should enjoy it too, as the atmosphere is vibrant, and the scenes full of color - even the slum scenes and night scenes have something about them.
I also saw the movie long ago with reasonable English subtitles on UK Channel 4, and again as recently as Christmas 1999 on Polish TV, with a particularly bad voiceover.
Verdict - Well worth seeing, but where you'll see it now, I don't know. Luigi
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