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Sunday, January 28, 2018

Gran Bollito (aka Black Journal) (1977)

In 1938 pre-war Italy, a wife and mother (Shelley Winters) who is so obsessive of her only son (Antonio Marsina) that she makes a pact with Death to offer human sacrifices to keep him safe. Directed by Mauro Bolognini (IL BELL'ANTONIO), the film is inspired by Leonarda Cianciulli, an Italian serial killer known as the "Soap Maker Of Correggio". While the film can be looked at as a Grand Guignol piece of horror, it's clear that's not what Bolognini is principally interested in. The fact that it's set in pre-WWII Italy as war looms and fascism rises and that death on a grander scale than one serial killer's crimes is on the horizon hovers over the narrative. Winters is excellent here in one of her very best performances. However, the film is in Italian and she's dubbed, so it helps that her shrill voice isn't in evidence. Curiously, the female victims of Winters' meat cleaver are all played by men including Max Von Sydow. At first I thought they were transvestites until the dialog made it clear they were actually women. Again, Bolognini making a point? With Rita Tushingham, Adriana Asti, Laura Antonelli, Alberto Lionello, Renato Pozzetto and Milena Vukotic.

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