Baron Ferdinando Cefalý (Marcello Mastroianni) longs to marry his nubile cousin Angela, but one obstacle stands in his way: his fatuous and fawning wife, Rosalia. His solution? Since divorce is illegal, he will devise a sc... more »enario wherein he can catch his spouse in the arms of another and murder her to save his honor-a lesser offense. Criterion is proud to present director Pietro Germi's hilarious and cutting satire of Italy's hypocritical judicial system and male-dominated culture, winner of the 1962 Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, in a two-disc DVD edition that also features a documentary on the director, new interviews with the actors and screenwriter, screen-test footage, and more.« less
"What a waste. This is a hilarious movie, but the DVD transfer reminds me of a bad print at a second-run theater. This is the second DVD I have purchased from Hen's Tooth Video (the other being Peckinpah's Cross of Iron) and it will be the last. The transfer has not been augmented in any way for DVD. The scratches on the print are very distracting and there are no special features to make up for it. I look forward to the day when another company issues this worthy title in a manner that takes advantage of the DVD format and is appreciative of its customers."
That's it, I want a divorce!
E. A Solinas | MD USA | 03/10/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Just so you know, divorce is now permitted in Italy. But in 1962, the only way you could get a divorce was by... well, "Divorce Italian Style," a ka bumping off your adulterous spouse. This delightfully warped black comedy focuses on that very idea -- a disgruntled husband who goes to absurd lengths to get a "divorce."
Ferdinando Cefalú (Marcello Mastroianni) is a middle-aged Sicialian noble who is displeased with his life, and his adoring wife Rosalia (Daniela Rocca). In true midlife-crisis fashion, he falls for his angelic-looking cousin Angela (Stefania Sandrelli), but he can't get a divorce. Divorce isn't allowed in Italy at this time, so Ferdinando is left stewing over his problems, fantasizing about murdering Rosalia.
But then he hears about an odd law: if an adulterous spouse is caught in flagrante, then the wronged spouse can kill the adulterer and get off with a light prison sentence. So Ferdinando starts desperately searching for a potential lover for Rosalia, but she remains faithful. Then he locates an ex-boyfriend of hers, hoping to rekindle the old flame. But nothing goes quite according to plan...
Yes, it's a bit sick. But in such a funny way that it really doesn't offend. At a certain point it becomes less about Ferdinando trying to murder his wife, as it is an increasingly overwrought attempt to get her to commit adultery. Not to mention a spoof on traditional views on "family honor," where it is more shocking to NOT kill your adulterous spouse than it is to do so.
Ferdinando carefully straddles the line between being slime and being a funny character -- his surreal murder fantasies are hilarious, such as when he shoves Rosalia into a vat of soap. And in keeping with the spoof atmosphere, the romance is overemotional, the fighting is overwrought, and the contrived adultery/murder scheme is absurd. The final scene is the final tragicomic flourish, hinting at future disaster that Ferdinando deserves.
Pietro Germi at first seems to be making an offensive movie, but viewing it with a sense of humor shows that he's poking fun, and making wry social observations. He was also not above plugging Mastroianni's other movies -- one scene has a priest denouncing "La Dolce Vita," followed by crowds rushing to see it. Ferdinando's future brother-in-law ogles the beautiful Anita Eckberg, then hastily tells his fiancee that Eckberg is pretty, but "she has no soul."
The immortal Mastroianni injects just enough humanity into Ferdinando to keep us from loathing him -- in the middle of a midlife crisis, he seems increasingly confused as the movie goes on. Daniela Rocca sits on the fence between being devoted and annoying, while Sandrelli plays a girl who acts like an angel, but definitely isn't.
Thankfully Italian spouses no longer have to bump each other off to get a "divorce," but "Divorce Italian Style" remains a classic black comedy/social satire."
"Rosalia, are you sick or something?"
Dymon Enlow | 07/19/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've never even heard of this movie before, I only rented it cause I'm on a noble quest (just like a knight!) to see every Criterion DVD. And I'm glad I did cause this movie is hilarious! I loved it. I'd even buy a copy if I wasn't flat broke.
Aristocrat Fefe cannot stand his wife. Loud, annoying, crazy facial hair she grates on his nerves all day then wants to cuddle, etc all night. Yuck! Lucky for him though there is a 16-year-old hottie next door that is in love with him. Yes!
Now all he has to do is get rid of his wife, but since divorce is illegal he's just gonna have to kill her, but that means prison unless! Unless he catches her in the arms of another man then he'll get less than 3 years! But who would ever want to be with his wife?
Flawlessly directed with an almost psychotic intensity I think I grinned like an idiot the entire movie. And the performance! Everybody was great, but Marcello Mastroianni was absolutely brilliant. I'd laugh even when he was just standing around thinking.
Double feature this with THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH.
D: Pietro Germi (MY FRIENDS, SEDUCED AND ABANDONED) W: Ennio De Concini (SALON KITTY, BLACK SUNDAY)
Ferdinando Cefalu - Marcello Mastroianni (LA DOLCE VITA, 8 1/2) Rosalina Cefalu - Daniela Rocca (THE SUCKER, BEHOLD A PALE HORSE) Angela - Stefania Sandrelli (1900, THE CONFORMIST) "
Classic 60s Italian comedy at its best
Joan Martorelli | Key West | 04/30/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have never forgotten this movies since I first saw it when it came out in the 1960s. For years I have described it to friends and then several years ago it was finally released on video. What a treat to see it again. Many films don't stand the test of time, but this one does. Marcello Mastroianni portrays a wealthy, bored Sicilian barone who is as bored with his wife (who sports a slight mustasche), as he is with life. He catches the eye of a beautiful young woman (no mustasche), and decides he wants to marry her. Of course divorce is out of the question in Italy, so he concocts an elaborate scheme to kill his wife and win his new love. Marcello plays the frantic schemer while at the same time suffering the whining self-centeredness of his wife with masterful facial expressions. His ennui and arrogance are visible from the way he smokes his cigarette to the little sucking sounds which occasionally escape from the side of his mouth. You almost become sympathetic to his cause. The music is superb, and underlies the sense of suspense.All of the supporting cast is excellent. Pietro Germi is masterful at ridiculing the upper class, outdated Italian laws and the suffocating layers of structure and tradition in Southern Italy in the 1960s.Obviously, one of my favorites. (VHS version)."
Hen's Tooth Butchers It Again
unhelpful | 03/18/2001
(1 out of 5 stars)
"How on earth did Hen's Tooth get hold of the rights to this classic Italian film? They obviously have no right to produce DVDs, since they obviously don't have the right equipment for a good transfer from film (most of their efforts look like transfers from defective videos). If you have any respect for the film, never buy this DVD."