Saturday, January 05, 2013

Italian Movie of the Week: MAFIOSO (1962)

One of my five focus areas for 2013 is to watch at least one Italian movie every week. For the first week of the year, I picked Alberto Lattuada's MAFIOSO starring Alberto Sordi.

Netflix Synopsis: When the mob decides to call in a favor, factory exec Antonio Badalamenti (Alberto Sordi) finds himself in the unlikely role of Mafia assassin in this Golden Globe-nominated crime drama that deftly walks the line between comedy and tragedy. Tapped by a Sicilian don to perform a hit in New York, the inexperienced Antonio must somehow carry out his mission, all the while keeping his criminal connections hidden from his unsuspecting family.

I have totally enjoyed the black-and-white movie. It is fun and rather suspenseful. It is also interesting with the mention of Messina since it is largely about the main character's (Antonio Badalamenti) very much-deserved vacation with his family in Sicily. It is interesting, because my first read for The Italian Reading Challenge is Much Ado About Nothing, also set in Messina.

Antonio, also known as Nino, loves his Milanese wife and two young daughters. After four years of hard work in Milan, he is finally able to take a two-week vacation and brings his family to his hometown in Sicily. You can see how his wife, Marta (a Northerner) struggles with adapting to the lifestyle in the sud (South), but soon gets along fine with her husband's big family and friends. Marta (Norma Bengell) is perceived by Nino's mamma and papà to be snobbish, but they soon see the good side of her too. Her I-couldn't-stand-living-here mindset slowly changes; deep down she is a nice lady.

Back to Nino, he gets what he wants for his family from Don Vincenzo (Ugo Attanasio), a very powerful guy with whom history goes way back to Nino's younger days. Nino has very deep respect for the man. To keep his promise to Vincenzo and to protect his family, he must complete a mission. In New York. But, he knows none of that until he is actually in New York. That is where the fun part is. That, though, is toward the last 20 minutes of the movie.

Family and friends are very important to Nino, and although he is very successful in Milan, he has not forgotten his Southern root one bit. In the movie, you see him remembering all his friends and greeting them by their names.

I give this baby a 5-star rating. I could understand about 60% of what is spoken in the movie and the way the Italians express themselves and that makes me a happy girl. Although B&W, it is un film meraviglioso (a wonderful movie). Do check out IMDB for the complete cast and details.

Here's one of my favorite lines from the movie, translated to English: "I can't read a book, but I sure can read looks."  I am looking forward to next week's Italian Movie of the Week!