Friday 28 August 2020

Il Cinema Ritrovato Online (2) - DONNE E SOLDATI (Luigi Malerba & Antonio Marchi, Italy, 1955), I CENTO CAVALIERI/THE HUNDRED HORSEMEN (Vittorio Cottafavi, Italy, Spain, Germany, 1964)

Marco Ferreri (l) Donne e Soldati)

I only picked up on Donne e Soldati  when the Facebook chatter got into gear. Not having ever heard of the film or the oneshot duo of film-makers, Luigi Malerba and Antonio Marchi, I hadn’t paid attention at all if the truth be known. But there it was , a film rescued from oblivion because of the involvement of Marco Ferreri as actor, writer and some sort of producer. 


Curator of the section Emiliano Morreale describes it as a ‘decentralised’ production, i.e. something not made in Rome and calls it ‘the final practical output of the critical and theoretical work of the Parma cinephiles who gravitated around the magazine “La Critica Cinematografica”. The first script credit goes to Attilio Bertolucci, Bernardo’s father. Who knew.


It’s all about Italians waging war and the general level of incompetence, lack of enthusiasm, readiness to make informal peace and the influence of women in the scheme of things, they being infinitely smarter than the idiotic generals and dukes who line up on each side. Very playful and shot in a manner (lots of mud, grime, crumbling castles and improvised searches for food) that suggests both an acknowledgement to neo-realism and a desire to puncture social norms. A beautiful black and white restoration by the Cineteca di Bologna did full justice to Gianni Di Venanzo’s photography. A real discovery, another notch on Bologna’s gun.


Barbara Frey, Antonella Lualdi, I Cento Cavalieri

By chance the same playfulness is also present in a much more sumptuous effort, again restored by the Cineteca for the same distributor as Donne e Soldati  Compass Film, Vittorio Cottafavi’s  I Cento Cavalieri/ The Hundred Horsemen. I remember this film getting a supportive review in Movie back in the day, like about 1966, but nobody as far as I know picked it up for distribution or even festival screening here, at least not with subtitles.


Once again there is much amateurish military activity on the part of the Spanish peasants who find themselves being taken over and their goods and women sequestered for use by the invading Moors. The Moors are rather better organised and have matching dashing blue uniforms and gold shields. But canniness and enthusiasm win out. This must have been quite an expensive production in its day. The locations are authentic, the battle scenes with horses and men filmed with great dexterity. An American star, well Mark Damon, possibly fresh from Corman’s  The Young Racers    was brought in and the scrumptious Antonella Lualdi, previously seen In Chabrol’s A Double Tourbut an actress who made dozens of movies, so many that even Barrie Pattison may have seen no more than half, was the female star. Once again it’s the women who are smart and who save it all and though the chief Moor dies in battle, his second in charge stays on and is involved in the double wedding of the finale.


Some kind of day..

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.