IL SECONDO TRAGICO FANTOZZI (Luciano Salce, 1976) **1/2
The second, and arguably the best, entry in the FANTOZZI series is basically more of the same but here the results are even livelier and funnier. It goes without saying that all of the following are better watched and heard than read about and a knowledge of the Italian language is compulsory for fully appreciating this series in particular and most Italian comedies in general but, for what it's worth, here are the highlights of the film under review:
1) A superstitious boss takes Fantozzi to a gambling casino where the latter is mistaken for a homosexual and is subsequently forced by his boss to drink a case of sparkling water which inevitably causes Fantozzi to emit a gargantuan belch
2) The hunt which turns into a veritable battleground (complete with war tanks) and with the hunters eventually shooting on one another
3) The masterstroke of the film is the sequence which shows Fantozzi revolting against a film-fanatic superior of his when the employees are forced to watch Sergei Eisenstein's THE BATTELSHIP POTEMKIN (1925) for the nth time while there is an Italy vs. England football match being shown live on TV at the same time; Fantozzi blows his top and exclaims the immortal phrase: "For me, THE BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN is crazy s***" which is met by a flurry of applause by his (for once) appreciative colleagues, after which the superior's personal copy of the film is burnt and he is then himself forced to watch for three days running GIOVANNONA LONG-THIGH (1972), THE EXORCIST - Italian STYLE (1975) and a fictitious poliziottesco THE COPS ARE MAD!; the employees' eventual punishment is a weekly re-enactment of the famous Odessa steps sequence from Eisenstein's film with Fantozzi invariably being given the role of the baby in the ill-fated carriage! By the way, another favorite film of the superior to which the employees are often subjected to is Carl Dreyer's DAY OF WRATH (1943)!
4) Fantozzi receives free tickets for a circus performance during a period of sickness but decides to attend just the same highly camouflaged but, of course, he is immediately recognized by a superior of his and so tries to pass himself off as a circus performer with increasingly disastrous results including being fired from a cannon
5) A visit to a brothel with Reder and Anatrelli ends with the former in hospital (suffering the ire of a horde of unpaid taxi drivers) and Fantozzi himself sleeping outside his own flat as a watchdog (while the latter, who has since married Mazzamauro, goes on about his business on the inside with one of the girls they picked up)
6) A disastrous escapade with Mazzamauro shows Fantozzi incompetently performing several extreme physical feats so as to prove to her that he is even better than her husband
7) In the final sequence. Fantozzi goes back to work for the company as a human shield against lightning!
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