Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Italian CINEMA in Brazil 1967 - 1970

Even though Italian music was on the wane in 1967-1968 Italian movies were everywhere to be seen. It's hard to fathom how popular Italian flicks were around this time unless one look at the movie-sections of newspapers. The so-called spaghetti-western were shown by the dozen; Italian light comedies like those with Catherine Spaak having the sound-track loaded with summer-hits were a must... and adult comedies where 'cornuto' was the word abounded too. Silly comedians like Lando Buzzanca, Franco & Ciccio filled movie houses all over the country. 

Particularly as of 1967, starting with Rita Pavone's 'Rita o mosquito', and Gigliola Cinquetti's 'Dio come ti amo' there were quite a few Italian musicals based on songs that were hits. 

24 November 1966 - 'Viagem ao mundo dos prazeres' or 'Canzoni nel mondo' was a documentary filmed by Vittorio de Sica and released in 1963. It was almost 3 years old when released here. One could see Peppino di Capri, who actually had visited Brazil in 1962... plus Gilbert Becaud, Juliette Greco and marvelous Mina who never visited us... 
19 February 1967 - Brazilian actress Norma Benguel was doing very well in Italy, this time playing the main female role in 'Vigarice à italiana' (Una bella grinta) with Renato Salvatori.
19 June 1967 - Lina Wertmüller's 'Rita la zanzara' (Rita, o mosquito).

26 July 1967 - Wednesday - Maybe spurred by the success of 'Rita o mosquito' Fama Filmes did something usual: it released a black-and-white film: 'Dio come ti amo' with Italian singer Gigliola Cinquetti and US actor Mark Damon opens at Cine Rivoli, Goiás, Sammarone, Aladin, Cinemar in Santo Amaro, Amazonas & Patriarca. This tear-jerker would play in and around Sao Paulo for years to come. It became something of a phenomenon: on top of being played every single week-end on suburbia for at least 5 straight years the extended-play featuring 'Dio come ti amo' (1966) and 'Non ho l'età' (1964) went back up the charts and stayed there for almos 2 years.
'Nel cielo passano le nuvole che vanno verso il mare, sembrano fazzoletti bianchi che salutano il nostro amore... Dio come ti amo, non è possibile avere fra le braccia tanta felicità...' There goes the lyrics of such a melodic song that conquered so many million hearts all over the world...
24 December 1967 - Italians also had their 'beach movies'. Actually Italians had twice as many beach-movies than Americans. Sometimes I think they shot those movies just to insert their summer hits in the sound-tracks. You would be watching these movies and listen to Rita Pavone, Edoardo Vianello, Bobby Solo, Adriano Celentano, you name-it in the background. 'Brotos ao sol' (Diciottenni al sole) was actually 5 years late for it was released in 1962. It had various rock hits on the sound track like Gianni Morandi's 'Go kart twist'.

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8 January 1968 - the fatal year of 1968 starts all fine with 'Non stuzzicate la zanzara' (Não brinque com o mosquito) Do not tease the mosquito - Ria Pavone rocks the screen again now with a little help from Giulietta Masina plus Giancarlo Giannini & Peppino de Filippo. Even though the plot is inferior to 'Rita o mosquito' the musical number are more sophisticated.

RCA Italiana's 'Little Rita nel West' 
15 July 1968 - Just when you thought it was safe to go the movies without having to be pestered by Django, Ringo, Sartana, Joe Dynamite etc. here comes 'Little Rita nel West' (Rita no West)... Rita Pavone's 3rd movie in 13 months. It coincided with the spaghetti-westerns overkill. There were dozens of Italian westerns being shown at cinemas all around Brazil. 'Vou... mato e volto' (Vado, l'ammazzo e torno) that some Brazilians tongue-in-cheek called 'Vou no mato e volto' was one of the most popular so far. 
14 July 1968 - 'Vado, ammazzo e volto' became 'Vou, mato e volto' or like people used to make fun of it: 'Vou no mato e volto' meaning: 'I will go into the bush and come back' really meaning 'I will take a shit and back'. 
13 October 1968 - Even though Italian music was on the wane in Brazil, Italian movies still reigned supreme, especially spaghetti-westerns, comedies and now musical dramas. Italian rock singer-cum-balladeer Gianni Morandi had a big hit with 'In ginocchio da te' in 1964 which later became a movie but was never released here. Morandi's follow-up hit 'Non son degno di te' (Não mereço você or 'I'm not worth of you') was shot in 1965 and released here 3 years later when Fama Filmes realized after the receipts gained from 'Dio come ti amo' that there was a market for Italian tear-jerkers among Brazilian youth. Young Brazilians apparently didn't rock so much as they cried hidden in the darkness of a movie-theatre. Actress Laura Efrikian was Gianni Morandi's wife when they shot both films.
The ad says: 'A mesma doçura! O mesmo encanto de 'Dio come ti amo'; which translates as: The same sweetness! The same loveliness of 'Dio come ti amo'... What to expect from a 'rock' movie which is called 'I'm not worth of you'?
29 December 1968 - and to finally close a tragic year for Democracy in Brazil - for on 13 December 1968 the Military Dictatorship that had abolished free-speech in the country issued the infamous AI-5 (Institutional Act no. 5) which plunged the country in complete darkness and backwardness. Well, to close 1968 which saw so many spaghetti-westerns how about 'Buckaroo' ('A Whinchester que não perdoa' or 'The Winchester that never forgives')!

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4 January 1970 - It's hard to think that an old timer like Claudio Villa could still draw crowds to the theatres to watch something like 'Non pensare a me' (Não pense em mim) the title of the song Mr. Villa won San Remo Festival in 1967; yes, the same Festival in which Luigi Tenco shot himself in the head because the felt he had been overlooked by the members of the jury. What a circus!

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8 February 1970 - this tear-jerker would never go away... 'Dio come ti amo' had been showing continuously around the country ever since it premiere on 26 July 1967.

23 March 1970 - Brazilian actress Florinda Bolkan was the new sensation at the Italian cinema playing a lesbian in 'Una ragazza piuttosto complicata' translated as 'Momentos eroticos' (Erotic moments). Brazilians weren't sure if they loved or hated Miss Bolkan as they have a tendency to hate those who become successful abroad ever since Carmen Miranda became a sensation in Hollywood in the early 1940s. Brazilians wouldn't forgive Miss Miranda for having played 2nd fiddle to Alice Faye and having portrayed Latin Americans bombshells. Brazilians think they are WASPS (white-Anglo-Saxon-Protestants) so they hate to see themselves portrayed as 'dark-coloured-people-who-speak-English-with-a-heavy-accent'... Brazilians are a joke... a pitiful joke, actually.

19 April 1970 - 'Rome adventure' aka 'Candelabro Italiano' was back again 7 years later. This travelogue had sparked an invasion of Italian pop music in Brazil back in 25 March 1963 spearhead by 'Al di là' sung by Emilio Pericoli. We were in 1970 but looking at the films playing it felt like 1963, 1965 and 1967.

OESP cinema columnist Rubem Biafora has second thoughts about 'Rome adventure' saying the flick had been mercileslly attacked by the 'pseudo-engagé' aka 'false vestal' intelligentsia but it was actually 'a beautiful ouvre' that had the merit to introduce lovely Suzanne Pleshette to the world.

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