Thursday, September 16, 2010

Romance & the Swiss Cinema – A Rooster For Love in the Amorous “Marcello Marcello”

Once upon a time, in the island of Amatrello, just off the coast of Italy, not too long ago (1956), there lived a young man of 18 named Marcello, the son of a fisherman. He was smart, conscientious, and good looking, and never once considered joining the town’s silly courtship custom. When a girl turns 18, she is presented to the town’s young men who are then invited to bring her gifts; a gift intended for the girl’s father, and whoever gets chosen will enjoy the privilege of the girl’s first date.

One day, the mayor’s daughter comes home to celebrate her 18th birthday. Elena has grown up into a lovely lady. And this time, Marcello isn’t just an amused spectator. Marcello is enchanted by her enigmatic smile. When Elena is presented for the gift-giving ceremony, Marcello vows to win! But he has to overcome the insurmountable odds by giving the mayor what he’s been wanting – the butcher’s rooster who keeps disturbing his sleep!

But the butcher refuses to part with his rooster – unless Marcello gets 2 bottles of limoncello, a rare wine owned by the reclusive Palmierri sisters who wouldn’t give him a bottle – unless Marcello gets a pair of wedding dress for them. Before he knew it, he’s been rounding half the town’s population for items in exchange of what the young man needs. But he is resolute. He will face every greedy soul to get to his Elena: his school principal, the stern priest, a shamed soprano, a rock & roll-loving barber, the town seamstress, and his cunning classmate Armando! Will he ever get to date Elena?

I'll give you a good guess.

This should be Cine Europa’s most fun and deliciously fizzy entry this year, a story told like a fairy tale. It has this feather-light narrative, and dispenses lessons on perseverance and the nature of greed, subtly grazing over moral issues amidst the backdrop of golden sunrise, turquoise sea and pastel homes. Francesco Mistichelli makes a star turn as the adorable Marcello, and Elena Cucci (as lovely Elena) is his perfect muse. I am curious as to this movie’s country of origin (Switzerland) when the story is set in an Italian town. The copy shown in Shangrila is grainy, but once you get over this, there is no doubt of its immense entertainment value. It will be screened again – for free - this Saturday (September 18) at 6 PM. Queue starts at 4:30, and tickets are distributed at 5.

Do yourself a favor and watch Denis Rabaglia’s “Marcello Marcello”.

Francesco Mistichelli as Marcello

Elena Cucci

Alfio Alessi is the town lothario, and Marcello's worthy adversary. Not only is he good looking, he is smart, rich and cunning.

Young men gather outside the girl's house for the announcement.

Francesco Mistichelli

Francesco Mistichelli today: more gorgeous than ever. Unfortunately, he hasn't done any films after "Marcello Marcello".


Anonymous said...

And the book is fantastic, too. Marcello's Date by Mark David Hatwood;

Cathy P. said...

Would love to get hold of a copy. It's such a delightful tale.