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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Avanti! (1972)

An uptight industrialist (Jack Lemmon) has to make a sudden trip to Italy when his father is killed in an auto accident. It comes as a shock to him to find that there was a female passenger in the car with him.  When he meets the woman's daughter (Juliet Mills), there comes another shock. His father and her mother had been lovers for ten years! Directed by Billy Wilder who co-wrote the screenplay with his longtime collaborator I.A.L. Diamond but it's not an original screenplay, it's based on a play by Samuel Taylor which lasted all of 21 performances on Broadway. From the late 60s on, Wilder's output was erratic. He gave us one good film (PRIVATE LIFE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES) but most of his output was poor (FRONT PAGE, FEDORA). This is one of his weaker efforts. First off, it's way too long. 2 1/2 hours for a romantic comedy? Really? The film is crammed with cartoon Italian stereotypes. They're lazy (those long siestas!), blackmailers, criminals deported from the USA, women with mustaches and generally "quaint" as if they were performing for tourists like trained monkeys. Then there's Jack Lemmon at his manic worst, he barks all his lines. Thankfully there's Juliet Mills whose understated performance is a welcome contrast though the "fat" jokes fall flat especially since she's not fat at all. With Clive Revill, Edward Andrews and Ty Hardin.

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