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Thread: IL BOOM (Vittorio De Sica 1963)

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    IL BOOM (Vittorio De Sica 1963)

    TRAILER

    A revived classic cowritten with Cesare Zavattini like Bicycle Thief, Umberto D., Shoeshine, Two Women,Miracle in Milan, but this one, I think is less known in this country. Review commentary coming shortly. It showed at Film Forum in June, and is coming to L.A. in a few days. Plays July 21 to 27 at Ahrya Fine Arts and Laemmle’s Playhouse.
    [Press release.]
    Rialto Pictures presents Vittorio De Sica’s 1963 comedy IL BOOM, never before released in the US, at the Ahrya Fine Arts in Beverly Hills and Laemmle's Playhouse 7 in Pasadena for one week only, July 21-27.

    IL BOOM long remained one of the most undervalued of all the films to emerge from director Vittorio De Sica’s long and fruitful collaboration with screenwriter Cesare Zavattini, that include the landmark neo-realist films Shoeshine, Bicycle Thieves and Umberto D. Other De Sica films as director include Two Women, Gold of Naples, and The Garden of the Finzi-Continis.

    Italian film historian Enrico Giacovelli has re-evaluated IL BOOM as not only one of the duo's finest films but also as something of a minor masterpiece of the commedia all'italiana, that particularly mordant form of film comedy that arose in Italy in the late 1950s as a reflection upon the profound moral dilemmas and social contradictions brought about by the so-called Italian 'boom' or 'economic miracle.'

    In IL BOOM, Giovanni Alberti (Alberto Sordi), a mid-level executive during the economic boom following World War II, goes to absurd lengths to maintain his wife Silvia's (Gianna Maria Canale) standard of living. When Signora Bausetti (Elena Nicolai), the wife of a wealthy industrialist, makes him an offer that would wipe out all of his debts, Giovanni is faced with a dilemma that is literally “eye-popping.”
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 07-18-2017 at 01:21 PM.

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    Il boom: the review

    VITTORIO DE SICA: IL BOOM (1963)


    ALBERTO SORDI IN IL BOOM

    Grim mockery of Italian materialism

    When Il Boom came out in Italy in 1963 it was a flop, and it never came to US theaters. We may be ready for it now. It's as terrifyingly sardonic and harsh as Swift's "Modest Proposal," but its indictment of conformist materialism is timely.

    In Il Boom a man pledges to sell one of his eyes to a megarich industrialist to pay massive personal debts he's run up living a fancy lifestyle to keep his posh wife happy. It's some consolation - but not enough - to learn that in Italian "I'd give an eye" is equivalent to saying "it costs an arm and a leg," so it's a metaphor made literal - like Swift.

    Some of the direction by De Sica may seem slapdash, or simply flat. The writing by his classic collaborator Zavattini may be hard to reconcile, overall, with the humanity of Bicycle Thief or sweetness of Miracle in Milan. This is because all the focus is on the upper middle-class and someone who aspires to their company. Such people are not looked on with favor here, and they seem to be seen as typical of the time and place.

    Whatever its faults and extremism Il Boom is a remarkable piece of work, and however grim at its heart, on the surface it's full of the bright buoyancy of the great movies of commedia all'italiana (comedy Italian style). One can even half see how one Italian critic in the 1990's called it a masterpiece. Its ending is just a bit too quietly chilling, though.

    Il Boom refers to the "economic miracle" that buoyed Italians up for several decades after the War, but came to feel increasingly hollow, in the post-Berlusconi era no doubt totally so. Here it's seen as a kind of hysteria of materialism that leads poor Giovanni Alberti (the great Alberto Sordi, in a gigantic performance), a small time building contractor, into heavy debt playing a rich guy to please his fancy wife Silvia (Gianna Maria Canale), daughter of a pompous ex-general, and impress his universally richer "friends" and associates.

    At first, and this is when Il Boom is least funny and most sad, Alberti has gotten himself deeply into debt. He is simply going around pathetically asking seemingly everyone he knows, none of whom give a damn, to lend him money. In an extended tennis sequence, his rich opponent just takes the request as simply his own special humor: he's looked on as a jokester, an entertainer. When he asks his employer, in an elaborate, sincere speech, this gentleman simply dozes off.

    Finally Alberti confronts a big, scary super-contractor, the large, and one-eyed Signor Bausetti (Ettore Geri), and, next, his battleship wife, as formidable as he (Elena Nicolai). Bausetti brusquely rebuffs Alberti's request for a reference to another contractor he says he has nothing to do with. But Signora Bausetti likes Alberti's healthy and robust looks and invites him to a top-secret tryst. It's not what he thinks, though: she wants to put to him her modest proposal.

    After he agrees, he gets a big advance, and gives a huge party. At this point the pathos is replaced by giddy, disturbing hilarity as he gets drunk and winds up insulting everybody. The party, like all the scenes of bourgeois splendor, is staged with impressive glitter. Next morning, the gig is up, and he must report to the clinic. The outcome is not what you might think.

    Il Boom, 82 mins., debuted at Vigevano; later Milan, Rome, and Turin. Its US theatrical release by Rialto (in a new 4K restoration) was 16 June 2017 at Film Forum. Coming 21-27 July at Ahrya Fine Arts by Laemmle, Beverly Hills. For other release dates see Rialto..
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 07-18-2017 at 08:28 PM.

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