Slicing through Sicilian culture like a razor through carpaccio, Pietro Germi’s commedia dell’arte leaves no stereotype unturned: Mafioso bigwigs, horny old patriarchs and hot-under-the-collar yokels all get a trip to the chopping block. The sharpest digs, however, are reserved for Ferdinando (Mastroianni), a henpecked husband whose sleazy pencil mustache is only slightly more hideous than his wife’s pitch-black peach fuzz. (If a Facial Hair Hall of Fame is ever created, this tour of tonsorial terrors should be the first inductee.) Our hero pines for his cousin (Sandrelli), a Lolita-esque bombshell with a penchant for clingy nightgowns. The attraction is mutual, but Ferdinando can’t act while his spouse (Rocca) is still in the picture. Of course, this is vendetta country. If he were cuckolded and had to put a bullet through his better half’s skull…
Few films have balanced sly social satire and broad, mugging caricatures with such grace, even as Germi keeps his rural grotesques moving around at a frantic pace. It’s hard to think of an actor besides Mastroianni who could have pulled off such a wonderfully pathetic Mediterranean schlub; armed with a nervous tic, that god-awful caterpillar on his lip and eyes glazed over with lust, the actor gleefully hammers a stake into his own Latin-lover persona.
Cast and crew