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Dino Risi did a lot of sketch collections during his great career as
writer and director, and in 1982, he teamed up with some of the most
popular actors of the time singer/actor/comedian Johnny Dorelli and
the sex symbols Laura Antonelli and Gloria Guida to shoot Sesso e
volentieri". Dorelli is seen in all of the ten episodes, Guida in five
and Antonelli in three.
The structure with its secluded episodes brings along the usual problem: The movie can't keep a constant quality level. There are a couple of entertaining episodes, for some others no one will ever care for, and the rest is just very poor. And when the credits roll, you'll just wish the crap had been cut and the good stuff had been extended. Speaking of Sesso e volentieri", the share of total time-wasters is luckily rather low, and the share of mediocrity quite high, but one thing's for sure: Risi could do so much better.
For my liking, the movie starts off with some very forgettable episodes, such as the very first with the TV show magician ridiculous and absurd, but not in a fun way. The first Laura outing a widow moves into a room where a hooker used to live and she suddenly kind of likes to assume that role, too is not much better, and as a huge Laura fan, I absolutely hated her hairstyle in this episode. Right after that, an attempt at a black comedy with Radio Taxi" - not much more than an attempt.
The first small highlight is the barbershop episode that benefits from a casual situation turning dangerous, and very fine situation comedy by Dorelli. Next up is an episode where Dorelli, married family father, is followed and openly courted by a gay. Apart from the awkward situations, there is nothing special or very funny about this. And with the next episode, Lady Jane", we arrive at bottom level: Dorelli as a host-for-rent, dining with a foreign minister's wife who has a tendency for farting. Sounds exactly as funny as it is although done with more decency than in modern so-called comedies.
Next up, another extremely contrived episode with Dorelli acting as a poor fiddling beggar, who is trying to get into bed one more time with his former lover (Gloria Guida). And then, one episode a little longer and far better than all the others before: Dorelli meets a very beautiful and seductive woman on the street. At first she doesn't seem to be interested in him, but after he tails her all day, she slowly gets into the Adventure". A simple story, with likable characters, Dorelli and Laura work well together. And wow, Laura is mind-blowingly beautiful... The erotic scene with her lying on the bed in lingerie, smiling, giving a hot wink to Dorelli, is absolutely awesome. Nice twist in the end and you have the best episode of Sesso e volentieri".
After that, we get an episode with a couple in honeymoon, meeting a rich sheik who turns out to be after Dorelli and not after Guida. Dragged out way too long. Then, the last episode: Dorelli as a servant in a palace, deeply in love with one of the guests, a foreign princess (Laura). And the lady is surprisingly open to his advance. What follows is a slapstick orgy: While the two try to make out, the princesses' room is all but quiet. Bodyguards, paparazzi, anarchists. Nothing special, but kind of entertaining on a low level, and with a totally stupid black humor" twist.
Given the fact that this movie even boasts sex" in it's title, it is very tame, containing absolutely no sex and extremely little nudity (in the Adventure" episode). Dorelli is quite good throughout, but he can't save a poor story all alone. For Gloria Guida, this was one of her final cinema appearances. Her roles are not very interesting and her acting was never worth mentioning. Laura Antonelli on the other hand had shown her comedy talents several times before and I think she could have upgraded a couple of the episodes. In the end, it is her Adventure" episode that saves the day. Overall, if you like Dorelli, Laura or Guida (or even all of them), then you can give it a try, but don't expect too much. Mediocre with very few highlights.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Dino Risi directs a series of 10 sketches that all star Johnny Dorelli.
Gloria Guida co-stars in 6 of these, Laura Antonelli in 3. The skits
vary in length, though the shorter are for some reason all crammed into
the first half. Most, but not all of them are about sex, yet the
subject is treated with surprising dignity (i.e. Gloria and Laura are
mighty sexy but don't show as much as usual). Unfortunately. writers
Riso, Vanzina and Zapponi start repeating themselves before the end,
with fart and gay jokes popping up several times.
The first sketch, 'Domenica-In' is also the shortest, as it concerns a couple (Dorelli and Guida) watching a hypnotist on TV, who get stuck in the same position owing to a brief electrical fault that causes their sets to fall out at a crucial moment. In 'La Nuova Marisa', Laura Antonelli moves into a flat formerly owned by a call girl and is promptly mistaken for the previous inhabitant. 'Radio-Taxi' is another brief one in which a husband (Dorelli of course) can't take his wife (Guida) 's monotone speech pattern any more. Next up is 'Rasioio All'Antica', in which Johnny gets a dangerous shave from an upset barber and his manicurist (Gloria).
Having crammed 4 short subjects into less than half an hour, editor Alberto Gallitti slows down a bit for 'Il Macho', in which Johnny D. finds himself being stalked by butch man with a mustache. Here JD's wife is played by Liliana Eritrei. Neither Gloria nor Laura appears, and they are absent again in 'Lady Jane', in which the title part goes to Margaret Lee. Dorelli (this time with beard) goes out on a diner date with the gorgeous Lady Jane, only to find she suffers from a flatulence problem. Gloria returns first as Armanda in 'Armanda E Il Violinista'. Guess which part Johnny plays? That's right, an old acquaintance of hers who is so down on his luck he has to play his violin in restaurants for table scraps.
We're just shy of the one hour mark when Laura returns and promptly bumps into Johnny outside a supermarket in 'L'aventura'. The pair take an instant liking to each other and flirt with each other all the way home and beyond. Note that Antonelli gets to show off her hairy armpits in this one. In 'Luna Di Miele' Johnny and Gloria are once again a couple. This time he's a wealthy architect who becomes obsessed with a wealthy sheik staying at the same hotel. Finally, in 'La Principessa e Il Cameriere' Laura plays a spoiled princess and Johnny her drooling servant. You can see why they saved this one for last, as it features crazy more slapstick humor than any of the previous shorts combined.
The end credits feature a selection of stills from what has come before and strangely enough, the very first seems to be from a deleted sketch in which Dorelli is wearing a French beret and glasses. In any event, that part didn't appear in the version commented on here. The entire film is obviously a showcase for Johnny Dorelli, who despite a lot of different amounts of facial hair and a couple of accents never really seems to vary all that much from character to character. Gloria Guida actually does a better job of disguising herself throughout the film and while Laura Antonelli remains herself in every part she plays. Add to this the fact that Italian sex comedies were quickly becoming less sexy and more mainstream at the start of the Eighties, and you are left with rather a tame comedy that could have been much wilder, sexier and funnier had it been made 5 years earlier.
7 out of 10
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