Divorce Italian Style (1961)

Divorce Italian Style (Divorzio all’italiana)
Directed by Pietro Germi
Written by Ennio De Concini, Pietro Germi, and Alfredo Giannetti
Lux Film/Vides Cinematografica/Galatea Film
Repeat viewing/Netflix rental
One of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

Divorce: a resumption of diplomatic relations and rectification of boundaries. Ambrose Bierce

I have an unrequited love affair with Marcello Mastroianni and consider this to be the peak of his acting career.  I just love this movie!

Fernando Cefalú (Mastroianni) is the first son in an impoverished aristocratic family.  Things have gotten so bad that Fernando’s father has had to resort to housing his brother and family.  This puts temptation in Fernando’s way in the shape of his shapely 16-year-old first cousin Angela.  She reciprocates his affection in an infatuated teenager sort of way,

Fernando is burdened by the existence of his relentlessly cheerful and clinging wife, Rosalia (Daniela Rocca).  The domestic and attentive Rosalia might be the perfect wife if it were not for her little mustache and her constant pestering for demonstrations of love.  Fernando finds her unbearable and the audience can see why.

Then Fernando gets an idea.  Divorce is out at this time in Italy but crimes of honor are lightly punished in Sicily.  What he needs to do is find a chump foolish enough to fall for Rosalia and catch them en flagrante.  This is both easier and more difficult than it might seem.

This is a very funny film thanks largely to the spot-on performances by Mastroianni and Rocca.  Mastroianni manages to create a totally insufferable egocentric Latin lover and at the same time get you to hope he will succeed in his project.  He must have had fun sending up the press’s portrayal of himself.  There are also many pokes at the Italian character and customs to savor.  Highly recommended.

Divorce, Italian-Style won the Academy Award for Best Writing, Story and Screenplay – Written Directly for the Screen.  It was nominated in the categories of Best Actor and Best Director.


2 thoughts on “Divorce Italian Style (1961)

  1. “I have an unrequited love affair with Marcello Mastroianni”, I have just the opposite…along with any movie with Bette Davis and/or Joan Crawford. I just go “no”. Probably grossly unfair I realise but there it is.
    Your glowing report (and it being a comedy) however will have this added to “the list”…….there WILL be consequences if I don’t like it LOL – a big sulk most probably!

    • I share your antipathy for Joan Crawford. Bette can be hit or miss but when she is “on” she is really marvelous. It’s just that so often she plays a caricature of herself. I will wait with bated breath for your report on Divorce Italian Style. Certainly, Marcello was unlike this in any other movie.

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