A film of significant interest for who is in it (Turri, Morricone, Tenco)
Director Luciano Salce is more known for his satirical comedies, but "La Cuccagna" is a rare drama in his oeuvre. The film itself has a reasonably hard edge to it, as it portrays the struggles of a young woman to make a living in a society dominated by ruthless exploiters (and lecherous males). The film has its good and bad qualities but is of considerable interest mainly because some significant people took part in its making.
Firstly, there is Donatella Turri in the lead role of Rossella Rubinace. Donatella Turri only made a few films in the 1960s before giving up on the world of cinema. It's a pity because she definitely had good acting skills and that rare quality of being photogenic, and this is a rare chance to see her in a lead role.
Secondly, there is Ennio Morricone, the famous Italian composer who wrote the music to Sergio Leone's Spaghetti Westerns and many other great films. Here he contributes a musical score which in truth detracts from the film as it seems a little intrusive and at times inappropriate. I guess this was early in his career and he might have been still feeling his way. Still, it is interesting to see what he does here.
Thirdly, there is the unique appearance of Luigi Tenco, in his only film role, in the role of Giuliano. For those who are not familiar with Tenco, he is one of music's tragic figures. A talented singer-songwriter of the 1960s, Tenco committed suicide in 1967 at the tender age of 28, almost certainly triggered by his elimination in the qualifying stage of the Sanremo Music Festival. His lifeless body was found in his hotel room hours after the results were announced. Many of Luigi Tenco's songs were riddled with anger and disappointment, largely directed at society and its hypocrisies. In the film he plays a role, that of the cynical and angry young man, that seems tailor-made for him. One wonders if he was selected for the role because of this affinity, or whether it was just chance. We will probably never know. For Tenco fans, this film is a must-see. In the film Tenco also briefly sings one of his compositions ("La ballata dell'eroe", "The Ballad of the Hero"). Of course he is mostly remembered for his masterful composition "Vedrai, vedrai" ("You'll see, you'll see"), a song which seems to foreshadow his state of mind in 1967 and the tragic event that followed.
Also look sharp for an uncredited small appearance by Italian actor/comedian Ugo Tognazzi.
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