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  • Wife for a Night

    Wife for a Night

    ★★★½

    About 20 minutes into this period Italian comedy it dawned on me – this material is just like Kiss Me, Stupid. Quick IMdB search later and lo and behold, Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond’s 1964 sex farce is indeed based on the same Italian play (Anna Bonacci’s L'Ora della Fantasia) (Kiss Me, Stupid was a critical and box-office failure in its day though its reputation, rightfully I’d argue, has been somewhat rehabilitated). Wife for a Night comes across far more…

  • Our Very Own

    Our Very Own

    ★★½

    If you can get past both the idea that there was once a stigma surrounding adoption and the extended opening set piece drenched in suburban wholesomeness (if someone put little pig tailed Penny Macauly (12 year old Natalie Wood) in a burlap sack and tossed her in the river no court would convict them), this somewhat unique Samuel Goldwyn produced drama has some distinct rewards. Specifically, the two scenes featuring Ann Dvorak (here at the tail end of her notable…

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  • Volcano

    Volcano

    ★★★½

    1997 wasn't the only year of dueling volcano films (with the release of the now barely remembered big budget summer blockbuster wannabes Dante’s Peak and Volcano) - there was an earlier battle in 1950 of Italian neo-realist films - Stromboli and Vulcano. This pair had the unique marketing angle of a love triangle. Scorned woman Anna Magnani coming off of L'Amore directed by paramour Roberto Rossellini was jilted and Rossellini, with one eye on the English speaking film market, took…

  • Il Commissario Lo Gatto

    Il Commissario Lo Gatto

    ★★★

    It’s like Agatha Christie’s Evil Under the Sun as an Italian sex comedy, where sun bathing topless women outnumber red herrings by a wide margin. For a moment there, I thought all of the suspects would be assembled for a wet t-shirt contest.

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  • The Perfect Furlough

    The Perfect Furlough

    ★★

    Was doing a crossword and came across one of those long ones that can help make or break solving the puzzle.

    The clue: Mediocre (4 wds.)
    The solution: Tony Curtis Sex Comedies

  • The Last Wagon

    The Last Wagon

    If you watch enough Cinemascope films that were released by Fox during the mid-fifties you start to realize that the camera typically seemed imprisoned. While the pretty vistas became more awe inspiring as the result of the wide frame the filmmaking became more staid, with little but static shots and minimal cuts (an occasional pan, but few tracking shots). As the filmmakers technical tools became more cumbersome montage took a back seat, and even exotic location shot scenes could seem…