Very big deal.
grace | 08/26/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This Italian parody of Jules Dassin's *Rififi* turns out to be, after all is said and done, a better movie. Interestingly, it finally seems more original than Dassin's crime movie, despite its obvious mocking of Italian Neo-Realist pretensions AND the hard-bitten *Rififi* (itself a derivation of 1940's American film noirs). *Big Deal on Madonna Street* basically justifies director Mario Monicelli's career . . . at least in my eyes, for I've never much cared for most of his movies. His films have a very narrow interest, meaning, you really have to be Italian to "get" them. In *Big Deal*, Monicelli goes for something more universal with this spoof of the massively infuential French noir, and attains sundry brilliancies. Firstly, the characters are unforgettably individualized, with tics and situations that often turn the gangster archetype on its head. Marcello Mastroianni, for instance, is babysitting his infant while his WIFE serves a short term in jail for smuggling! And somehow the director manages to mock the post-War Italian cinema's unblinking view (a view which was monotonously repeated, starting with Rosselini's *Open City*) of the desperate plight of the country's working-class while AT THE SAME TIME carrying on most poignantly that tradition. For a comedy, there's a heck of a lot of dirty jails, dirty streets, and dirty people. The notion of a grand robbery -- a one-time "big score" -- is natural on these streets. The overall tone is light, but the grim realities are not hidden. This is not a "hilarious" comedy . . . at least until we get to the Big Caper, which is a smorgasbord of comic ineptness. I won't ruin it by describing it; see it for yourself. By the way, this movie was itself re-made (more or less) twice: Louis Malle tried to Americanize it in his *Crackers* (don't bother), and Woody Allen lightly essayed it just recently with his *Small-time Crooks*. Having praised *Big Deal on Madonna Street*, I will add the caveat that a prior knowledge of *Rififi* and Italian Neo-Realist cinema will enhance your enjoyment of the film. [I'm sorry to report that Criterion's DVD is, simply put, substandard. No features but a trailer, and the subtitles are poorly done, flashing on and off the screen like subliminal messages. As this is a later release (#113, I think), there are no excuses for the shoddiness. It's fair to expect excellence from Criterion, particularly because their products are so expensive. Oh well.]"
Excellent Italian comedy
grace | New York, United States | 10/31/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I Soliti Ignoti- I absolutely love this movie. It is one great italian comedy with a brilliant cast at its best in portraying the simplistic and realistic roles of petty criminals. Because of the nature of the characters and their ridiculous behaviour in the proceedings of their scheme to rob a pawnshop, the viewers won't be able to refrain from laughter and enjoy this gang's hopeless adventure. For anyone who loves this movie as much as I do, I recommend to see its sequel made a year later by Nanni Loy: "Audace Colpo dei Soliti Ignoti", with only the absence of Mastroianni but the addition of Nino Manfredi- Sure it's not as great as the first, but having liked these characters so much it is natural that one would want to see them back in action with yet another "scientifically" schemed project along with all their mishaps as usual...and of course, a little more of the unfolding romance of the couple portrayed by Claudia Cardinale and Renato Salvatori. Unfortunately this movie will be hard to find, and it is without subtitles. (Do not confuse this with a third sequel made 20 yrs later which, by the way, I do not recommend at all.) For anyone who hasn't seen Big Deal On Madonna St, please do see it."
So much better than "Welcome to Collinwood"
grace | 11/27/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"One of the best comedies ever made. A bumbling, utterly inept group of crooks resolve upon a seemingly simple heist. They fail in spectacular fashion. The scene in which Toto demonstrates the different methods for cracking a safe is unforgettably hilarious. A tour de force of casting, including Toto, Mastroianni, Gassman and Claudia Cardinale in her first major role.As a shocked Italian media reported, "Welcome to Collinwood" is nothing more than a remake of this remarkable film. As is so often the case, the original far surpasses the remake.Strange facts
#1 The actors play characters from all over Italy, yet almost none of them gets to play a character with an accent from the actor's own part of the country!
#2 Can you guess which of the principal actors was, in fact, a barista in the bar where the director used to go for his coffee?"
Genuinely funny movie
Westley | Stuck in my head | 05/04/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie is a classic comedy burglar caper. A collection of small time hoods gather to rob a pawn shop. Along the way, everything that could go wrong does in pretty hilarious fashion. As other reviewers have mentioned, Woody Allen's "Small Time Crooks" was clearly inspired by this film, so if you liked that one, you'll probably enjoy Madonna Street. I also agree with the problem with the subtitles flashing too quickly. All the more reason to try to get it on DVD - I found myself having to pause the frame just to read the subtitles. Despite this problem, this movie really is funny and enjoyable. Highly recommended."