Early efforts by Antonioni and Fellini elevate the curio factor of 1953 omnibus Love in the City
Things lighten up considerably with a delightful set piece of amorous shenanigans in a divey dancehall, demonstrating the wry observation that would make Dino Risi one of Italian cinema's greatest comedy directors. Fellini's equally bemused vignette finds a young reporter investigating a matchmaking agency for a humorous story sobered by the plight of the poor, earnest would-be bride he meets.
These breezy episodes are followed by the most devastating. Maselli's Story of Caterina, co-written by De Sica's scenarist Cesare Zavattini, follows its plain, forlorn heroine (Caterina Rigoglioso) from bad to worse — impregnated and abandoned, she can neither return to the Sicilian family that's disowned her or work legally in Rome to support her toddler son. The extremes to which she's driven are bleakest tragedy.
Even the most frivolous of these segments capture the realities of urban poverty with unblinking authenticity. As if acknowledging that so much realism might be bad for the digestion, Love in the City ends on its silliest (and sole upwardly mobile) note. Future Mafioso (1962) director Alberto Lattuada's The Italians Turn Their Heads finds all Roman mankind neck craning to leer at a procession of pretty women in tight modern fashions, each granted their own distinct lounge-music theme by composer Mario Nascimbene — thus silencing the chorus of wolf-whistles that would have been their real-life soundtrack.
LOVE IN THE CITY
Aug. 17-23, 2, 4:15, 6:30, and 8:45pm (no 6:30pm show Mon/20), $10-$11
SF Film Society Cinema
1746 Post, SF