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May 17, 2008

Too Bad She's Bad

too bad she's bad 1.jpg

Peccato che sia una Canaglia
Alessandro Blasetti - 1954
Ivy Video Region 1 DVD

I took a class on Italian film history, and have read a couple of books on the subject. At no time was Too Bad She's Bad mentioned. The importance of this film has less to do with director Allesandro Blasetti. More importantly, this was the first film to bring Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni together. Too Bad She's Bad is in itself, a cute film, no more and no less. It is in the iconographic significance of the pairing of Loren and Mastroianni that makes this film more important. It is not simply that Loren and Mastroianni teamed up for several films, many of them international hits, but that the two, more than any other actors, represented the face of Italian cinema.

Too Bad She's Bad is reputed to have been the film that brought enough attention to Loren in its U.S, release at the end of 1955, that by 1957, she was starring in three Hollywood films. Certainly she got the attention of Bosley Crowthers at the New York Times: "One striking point in its favor is the luxurious Sophia Loren, who is something to look at from any angle or any side. As the heroine who acts as a potent decoy for the professional activities of her father and brothers, who are thieves, she displays such a full and shapely figure that she makes it a pleasure to consider being robbed. And don't think the lady doesn't know it. With her, ambulating is an art. Leaning over is an esthetic maneuver. The signorina racks up quite a score."

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That Bosley was quite the wit, because speaking of racks, Loren looks like she is about to burst out of her form fitting costumes at any moment. While it would hardly merit a second glance today, it is easy to imagine the excitement of the suggested nudity while Loren changes into a swim suit behind some bushes. Even Marilyn Monroe could not compete against the outsized hips and breasts that made the barely adult Loren seem less like a screen actress and more like a force of nature.

The story is hardly worth mentioning. Mastroianni is a struggling cabbie, attempting to pay for his cab. Loren is part of the team that unsuccessfully attempts to steal the cab at a beach location, where Loren distracts Mastroianni. Through a series of coincidences, Mastroianni meets up with Loren, and her father, played by Vittorio De Sica, where it is revealed that theft is the family business. De Sica feels sympathetic towards Mastroianni, while Loren finds herself falling in love. The film not only offers something of a tourist's view of Italy, but a tourist's view of Italian film comedy.

A redone version of the film might well be in order. I only know a few words in Italian but I suspect that Herman G. Weinberg's subtitles are more polite than what is actually being said. Additionally, there are sizable bits of dialogue that go by without translation. The source print also appears to have seen better days. That said, if one is going to watch Loren and Mastroianni in one of their screen pairing, this is more watchable than Blood Feud. At the very least, Too Bad She's Bad offers an inauspicious beginning to a series of films that virtually defined popular Italian cinema.

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Posted by peter at May 17, 2008 12:02 AM

Comments

I rented this after seeing -- but not reading -- your review (which I read afterward).

What can I say? Sophia blows Marilyn off the map, and turns a threadbare romantic-sitcom into something utterly compelling.

I now have a copy of this in my DVD collection. After the wife's off to bed, I'll don my fez, light a cigar, and pop this baby in the machine...

Posted by: Flickhead at May 26, 2008 02:20 PM

Too bad with this film that the subtitles are so absolutely dreadful. They don't censor as such (I don't recall anything in the least crude or any hints of innuendo or double entendre), it's just that when they do translate they ignore large chunks of dialogue. And to be fair, you have to, just to give those reading along the bottom a chance to keep up and to look at the pictures from time to time. If the timing of the leading actors were not so so good (and you ought to give DeSica a bit more credit, he is every bit as good as the main stars) then this would be exhibit number one in the argument of why dubbing is often better than subtitles. Who would want to miss a single second of Loren's performance in the taxi back from the beach because they were staring at the bottom few inches of the screen.

Posted by: Jim at June 1, 2008 03:56 PM

If anyone is interested how beautiful Sophia is in this film, i can tell you i am about 45 minutes into on TCM and i am compelled to go rub one out. Those BREASTS! That BUM! I can hardly stand it.

Posted by: Spencer Benedict at June 4, 2008 08:49 PM

I like her delicious hairy armpits in this flick.

Posted by: Slick at August 19, 2008 03:48 PM