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THE RICH UNCLE (Alfonso Brescia, 1974) **1/2

Author: MARIO GAUCI ( from Naxxar, Malta
6 May 2008

To begin with, I'm no longer that much of a fan of the popular Italian comedy team of Franco & Ciccio i.e. Franco Franchi and Ciccio Ingrassia; as a kid, I know I've watched a number of their films but can't, for the life of me, tell which ones! That said, while at the 2004 Venice Film Festival I had attended the screening of a feature-length documentary on their life and work which, admittedly, was quite absorbing and well done; since that time I've come across one of Ciccio's solo efforts, a spoof on THE EXORCIST (1973) – as often happens, the duo eventually broke up and went their separate ways. This one, in fact, features Franco but not his partner and it's based on a play which had already been filmed 40 years previously!

It concerns a typical plot of a fight over an inheritance, with Franco sacrificing himself by sucking up to his rich uncle. On his deathbed (after a funny scene in which Franco is made to watch the latter munch through an endless meal, leading to the fatal indigestion!), the uncle starts telling his relative "I am leaving you…"; Franco naturally assumes he wanted to name him as heir of his fortune (rather than simply whispering his dying words) and installs himself in the uncle's house and starts living it up! However, his brother and sister won't stand up for this (the latter, a heavy-set woman, is especially adamant) and, searching high and low, manage to come up with a will – which actually leaves Franco with very little of the money he was expecting (leading to a hilarious recurring diatribe of expletives directed at his uncle's previously hallowed portrait!). Eventually, the house is put up for sale – but it transpires that, among the uncle's possessions, was a very valuable painting…except that Franco's brother, an amateur artist himself, has started painting over the uncle's collection to provide himself with empty canvases! It all leads to a pie-fight among the parties involved – but eventually there's a happy ending in which everyone has made up and Franco's gotten his wish at last.

This is a trivial but quite enjoyable film (helmed by "Euro-Cult" regular Brescia); incidentally, my local DVD rental outlet has acquired four of "Franco & Ciccio"'s vehicles, which I may now check out on the strength of this one.

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