« Coffee Break | Main | Coffee Break »

July 25, 2017


seduction poster.jpg

La Seduzione
Fernando Di Leo - 1973
Raro Video BD Region A

Made in between his action-filled crime thrillers, Seduction is atypical of the films from Fernando Di Leo. No fast moving cars, violence is limited to a couple of slaps. There is a gun, but it's not seen until the final scene. A journalist based in Paris, Giuseppe, returns to the Sicilian city of Catania after fifteen years to close and sell his late father's house. While in Catania, Giuseppe re-kindles his romance with Caterina, now a widow with a teenage daughter, Graziella. The schoolgirl indicates that she would like Giuseppe to be more than paternal. The relationship between the three not unexpectedly unravels with a tragic resolution.

The film is based on the novel, Graziella, by Ercole Patti, a popular novelist born in Catania, who contributed to the screenplay, and has had many film adaptations of his novel. From what I have read about the source novel and Patti would indicate that the film only hints at some of Patti's themes. The opening scene with Giuseppe walking through his father's very large house indicates a history of family wealth, making me think about the homes as described by another Sicilian writer, Giuseppe Di Lampedusa and The Leopard. With his clothes and mentions of his travels, Giuseppe life of wealth and privilege are given. Caterina, in turn, is firmly middle-class in her dress and outlook. The film updates the novel's setting which would affect Patti's observations of class differences. In the then contemporary setting of the 1970s, Caternina tells Giuseppe that she is not like the "liberated" women of Paris. With her hair as a jet black helmet, Lisa Gastoni's Caterina appears reserved, almost forbidding.

Giuseppe's attraction to Graziella seems based more on her making herself available to the man who is on the verge of becoming her step-father. In spite of protestations that he loves Caterina, Giuseppe is revealed to be the least adult in handling relationships. A closer reading of the title suggests that the seduction is not simply sexual, but that of false beliefs.

The blu-ray comes with a supplement created in 2004, with Di Leo, cinematographer Franco Villa, and actress Jenny Tamburi, who plays Graziella, recalling the making of Seduction. I would have wished that Lisa Gastoni, still alive and active at age 82, had participated here. One of the more interesting stories is of the casting of Graziella, with the role originally scheduled for Ornella Muti. Probably most widely seen as Princess Aura in Flash Gordon, the eighteen year old Muti was considered too attractive by Gastoni. Tamburi, 21 at the time of filming, was a last minute replacement, more quietly attractive, and convincing as a girl much younger. Giuseppe was played by Maurice Ronet, best known for his work with Louis Malle and Claude Chabrol. Ronet and Tamburi had acted together three years previously in the Ugo Tognhzzi vehicle, Madame Royale.

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at July 25, 2017 07:48 AM