Sunday, October 29, 2023

The Witches (1967 film)


Produced by Dino De Laurentiis, Le streghe (The Witches) is an anthology film consisting of five comic stories relating to witches all starring Silvana Mangano as it mixes horror and comedy. The anthology film features the work of five different filmmakers with a different cast as it plays into the world of witches who all disguises themselves as different kinds of women. The result is a witty though messy anthology film from producer Dino De Laurentiis.

The Witch Burned Alive

Directed by Luchino Visconti. Written by Giuseppe Patroni Griffi and Cesare Zavattini. Edited by Mario Serandrei. Music by Piero Piccioni. Starring Annie Girardot, Francisco Rabal, Massimo Girroti, Marilu Toto, Nora Ricci, and introducing Helmut Berger.

The film revolves around an actress who stops at the home of a friend in the Austrian mountains as a party is being held yet is pursued by men at the party with women being jealous of her. It is a short that plays into an actress taking a break from work to see a friend whom she realizes is in a crumbling marriage as she wants to spend time with her but there’s a party at the home as she gets drunk and things don’t go well. It is a film that has some humor and some dramatic tension though there are moments where things drag as Luchino Visconti doesn’t do much to make the sexual tension more prominent as it relates to its protagonist Gloria. Notably as Gloria’s beauty is also the source of tension among the women at the home with Gloria’s best friend Valeria (Annie Girardot) defending her while lamenting her own issues with her husband Paolo (Francisco Rabal). Girardot is the standout in the segment as it also include some fine supporting work from Nora Ricci as Gloria’s secretary and Helmut Berger in his debut film appearance as a hotel page who brings things to Valeria’s home.

Civic Spirit

Directed by Mauro Bolognini. Written by Agenore Incrocci, Furio Scarpelli, and Bernardino Zapponi. Edited by Nino Baragli. Music by Piero Piccioni. Starring Alberto Sordi.

The segment revolves around a man who is injured in an auto accident as a woman offers to take him to the hospital only to drive somewhere else to her own destination. It is one of the shorter segments of the film as it is more of a comedy in which Alberto Sordi plays this man who is severely injured and is losing a lot of blood with Mangano as this woman who is in a hurry as she is driving ferociously through Rome. Featuring some amazing editing by Nino Baragli, the film is a comical short that has Mangano being this woman that is more concerned about going to a building than helping this man as it a hilarious segment by Mauro Bolognini.

The Earth Seen from the Moon

Written and directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini. Edited by Nino Baragli. Music by Ennio Morricone. Starring Toto, Ninetto Davoli, Laura Betti, Luigi Leoni, and Mario Cipriani.

A man and his son both travel around the streets of Rome to find a woman for the man so he can create a new family as they chose this mysterious deaf-mute woman. It is a short that is comical but also stylish with Toto playing the father and Ninetto Davoli as his red-haired son wearing a New York City sports team sweater as Pasolini brings this sense of absurdity into the film. Notably as there’s a key scene at the Coliseum involving the mute woman known as Absurdity who takes part in a scheme of theirs. Featuring some great art direction and Baragli’s offbeat editing as well as Morricone’s wondrous music score that stands out from the rest of the music score in the film. This short is easily the best one in the film.

The Sicilian Belle

Directed by Franco Rossi. Written by Agenore Incrocci, Furio Scarpelli, and Bernardino Zapponi. Editor Giorgio Serralonga. Music by Piero Piccioni. Starring Pietro Tordi.

A woman has been humiliated by a man prompting her father (Piero Tordi) to find out who he is as he would massacre the entire family. It is the weakest short of the film series as it doesn’t really much of a story as it is a more dramatic story that has some dark humor but it doesn’t really give Mangano much to work with.

An Evening Like the Others

Directed by Vittorio De Sica. Written by Cesare Zavattini, Fabio Carpi, and Enzo Muzii. Editor Adriana Novelli. Music by Piero Piccioni. Starring Clint Eastwood, Valentino Macchi, and Pietro Torrisi.

The final short of the series revolves around a housewife imagining herself as a woman being swept off her feet by her husband yet the reality is that her husband is content and prefers to work and sleep though he wants to do things for her. Even as the fantasy has him becoming desperate for her attention as it plays into some comical moments but also lavish scenes of her wanting to be the center of attention towards all men with the husband unable to get her attention. It is a film that has a lot of humor though Clint Eastwood’s performance as Charlie is odd considering that isn’t known much for comedy as he’s a bit miscast though there is a brief moment of him playing a cowboy while his scenes set in reality as the husband has him playing it straight where he does manage to hold his own with Mangano.

As a film overall, it is a messy one with Pasolini’s segment being the best of the bunch while the segments by De Sica and Bolognini are strong with the latter being the shortest. Visconti’s segment is a bit dull in parts though it does feature some unique visuals with Rossi’s being the weakest as it wants to be funny but it never hits. All of the segments were shot by cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno whose photography does add a lot of vibrancy to the film with some low-key work for Visconti and De Sica’s segments to more wondrous colors in Pasolini’s segments. Art directors Mario Garbuglia and Piero Poletto, with set decorators Emilio D’Andria and Cesare Rovatti, do amazing work with the sets with the design of the gravestones for the Pasolini segment being the highlight of the film. Costume designer Piero Tosi does excellent work with the many dresses that Mangano wears in her different characters including the layers of gowns she would wear for De Sica’s segment.

Makeup artist Goffredo Rocchetti does nice work with some of the makeup with the look of green hair and heightened makeup in Pasolini’s segment being the standout. Special optical effects work by Joseph Nathanson is good for the scene in De Sica’s segment in a stadium as it plays into Mangano’s character as the object of desire. The sound work of Vittorio Trentino is terrific in playing up the locations as well as some sound effects in the film. Much of the film’s music by Piero Piccioni as it has its moment in its playful music along with some low-key pieces for the dramatic work yet it is Morricone’s score for the Pasolini segment that is the real standout of the music.

Le streghe is a stellar though flawed anthology film. While it features great performances from Silvana Mangano along with some nice technical work along with standout segments from Mauro Bolognini and Vittorio de Sica as well as a great short from Pier Paolo Pasolini. It is a film where there are things to watch though there are bits that don’t make it work. In the end, Le streghe is a good film from producer Dino De Laurentiis.

Vittorio De Sica Films: (Rose scarlatte) - (Maddalena, zero in condotta) - (Teresa Venerdi) - (Un garibaldino al convento) - (The Children Are Watching Us) - (La porta del cielo) - (Shoeshine) - (Heart and Soul (1948 film)) - Bicycle Thieves - Miracle in MilanUmberto D - (It Happened in the Park) - (Terminal Station) - (The Gold of Naples) - (The Roof) - (Anna of Brooklyn) - Two Women - (The Last Judgment) - (Boccaccio ‘70) - (The Condemned of Altona) - (Il Boom) - Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow - Marriage Italian Style - (Un monde nouveau) - (After the Fox) - (Woman Times Seven) - (A Place for Lovers) - (Sunflowers (1970 film)) – The Garden of the Finzi-Continis - (Lo chiameremo Andrea) - (A Brief Vacation) - (The Voyage)

Pier Paolo Pasolini Films: (Accattone) – (La Rabbia) - Mamma Roma - (The Gospel According to St. Matthew) - (Location Hunting in Palestine) – (Love Meetings) – (The Hawks and the Sparrows) – (Oedipus Rex) – Teorema - (Porcile) – (Medea (1969 film)) – (Appunti per un film sull’India) – (Notes Towards an African Orestes) – The Decameron - The Canterbury Story - Arabian Nights - Salo or the 120 Days of Sodom

Luchino Visconti Films: (Obsessione) – (Giorni di gloria) – (La Terra Firma) – (Bellissima) – (Appunti su un fatto di cronaca) – (We, the Women) – (Senso) – White Nights (1957 film) - Rocco and His Brothers - (Boccaccio ’70-Il lavoro) – The Leopard - Sandra – (The Stranger (1967 film)) – The Damned - Death in Venice - (Alla ricerca di Tadzio) – (Ludwig) – (Conversation Piece) – The Innocent (1976 film)

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