Mother Rome is a former prostitute who can't escape her past even as she desperately tries to urbanize in order to provide her son with a better future. It's almost as if Pasolini is trying to say something? Even if his star, Anna Magnani, hadn't also starred in Rossellini's Rome, Open City -- a film where Italy's modern problems are blamed on Nazis -- its easy to see that Mamma Roma is meant as an answer to that film's themes. It's a milder version of the same message that Pasolini would ratchet up to a fever pitch by the time he made Salo.
Federico Fellini won an Oscar in 1957 for his story of a prostitute in 1957's Italy. Fellini's direction and writing are superb as always, but the true heart of the movie lies with his star (and wife) Giulietta Masina who reminds me of Lucille Ball here (if Lucy had ever played a prostitute). In order to add realism to the scenes of the illicit characters interacting, Fellini had fellow Italian Pier Paolo Pasolini write the dialogue, what with his familiarity with the criminal element.
No one in Italy wanted to produce a film about a prostitute, though, until Dino De Laurentiis finally stepped up, a man who would go on to finance some very different movies (Death Wish, Halloween II, Army of Darkness, among a lot of other b to c-grade [but fun!] horror and action films through the 70's and 80's, and then U-571 and Hannibal as we get closer to today).
Stephen Goldmeier joins us for a forth and final episode. We've loved having him. Be sure to check out his website and podcasts over at Enchantment Under the Sea.
So check out Lost in Criterion this week, as we continue our endless quest.
Pier Paolo Pasolini's 1975 film Salo, or the 180 Days of Sodom, an adaptation of the work by the Marque de Sade transplanted to post-Mussolini-but-still-Fascist Italy is gratuitous. Vomitously gratuitous. Vomitously gratuitous in so many ways.
Do not watch this movie.
But do listen to Pat and I discuss it.