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The Widower (1959)
"Il vedovo" (original title)

 -  Comedy
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 450 users  
Reviews: 3 user | 3 critic

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Alberto Nardi
Franca Valeri ...
Elvira Almiraghi
Livio Lorenzon ...
Nando Bruno ...
Alberto's Uncle
Ruggero Marchi ...
Carlo Fenoglio
Gastone Bettanini
Mario Passante ...
Comm. Lambertoni
Enzo Petito
Nanda Primavera ...
Italia, Gioia's mother
Rosita Pisano ...
Nardi's employee
Alberto Rabagliati ...
Mario Cianfanelli
Carlo Di Maggio
Ignazio Dolce ...
(as Ignazio Doci)
Consalvo Flirt ...
(as Consalvo Flirt)


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THE WIDOWER (Dino Risi, 1959) ***
21 June 2008 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

With this, I’ve begun an 8-film tribute to Italian director Risi – who passed away recently at the venerable age of 91. It features one of the country’s foremost stars in Alberto Sordi: personally, I tend to find his antics overbearing – but this is clearly a cut above his average vehicle and, accordingly, he delivers an excellent performance as an incompetent but proud lower-class man who only achieves success after marrying eminent society woman Franca Valeri (a popular comic actress who here matches Sordi, dominating and mocking her spouse – calling him “Cretinetti” (little idiot ) – at every turn, as well as being something of a philanthropist while refusing to finance any of Sordi’s own business schemes!).

Running parallel to its sharply-observed satire on industrialization and the class struggle, the film is a black comedy detailing the hero’s brush with the titular status. Starting with his recounting a dream where he joyously attends Valeri’s funeral, it later transpires that a train she was supposed to travel on has been derailed (so he takes over his wife’s legacy and starts making all kinds of changes, as well as installing working-girl mistress Leonora Ruffo in his house)…except that Valeri missed the fateful train – shades of Laurel & Hardy’s SONS OF THE DESERT (1933) in reverse! – and, to her husband’s horror, turns up at their residence in the thick of the funeral arrangements!! Going through a period of meditation at a convent (an incident probably borrowed from Luis Bunuel’s EL [1952]!), he devises an elaborate plot – involving a trio of associates – in order to get rid of her once and for all…but, of course, this too goes tragically awry (especially for Sordi himself!!). A very typical product of its era, the film is necessarily talky and frenzied in tone – but, nonetheless, emerges a stylish and often inspired comic offering (notably the bare-back dress worn by Ruffo throughout the funeral reception, exasperating a usually bubbly industrialist no end…but which doesn’t prevent the latter from making the girl his own mistress, if only for a short while!).

Incidentally, the star had a number of similar generically-titled vehicles – such as THE BACHELOR (1955) and THE HUSBAND (1958) – which would suggest a form of loose trilogy, though they all had different directors (and he played a different character in each). By the way, I have several other Sordi titles in my “Unwatched VHS” pile – including a quartet he directed himself…

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