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Italy 1972
Directed by
Luigi Comencini
110 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

Scopone Scientifico, Lo

The early 1970s were a heyday of Marxism-inflected film-making in Italy and Luigi Comencini's comedy about an elderly and miserly American millionairess (Bette Davis) who journeys to her villa on the outskirts of Rome each year with her chauffeur (Joseph Cotton) to play a card game, scopa, with a poverty-striken couple, Peppino (Alberto Sordi) and Antonia (Silvana Mangano), who live in a shanty-town adjoining, is an amusingly ironic take on the style.

Comencini takes the visually unpromising premise and in Fellini-esque style (including a Rota-ish score by Piero Piccioni) invigorates it with rag-tag characters from the couple’s milieu, including a self-styled 'Professore' (Mario Carotenuto) and importantly, their eldest daughter, Cleopatra (Antonella Demaggi, a Li'l Orphan Annie waif in the only film that she ever appeared in)   Davis is called upon to do very little but play the hypocritical vindictive crone but, unsurprisingly she does it well. Cotten is required to do even less and characteristically he doesn’t fare so well. Sordi and Mangano who both won Donatellos for their performances, are the real stars as the familiar Italian couple – the bumbling husband and his ambitious wife looking for a windfall.

Although a film that will appeal more to fans of Italian film of the period Lo Scopone Scientifico, is a droll take on la commedia umano.:

FYI: This was the third on-screen pairing for Davis and Cotten. They had previously co-starred in Beyond the Forest (1949) and Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964).

DVD Extras: None

Available from: Madman




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