Sog.: dalla novella La cabina 124 di Anton Germano Rossi. Scen.: Aldo Fabrizi, Mario Amendola, Ruggero Maccari. F.: Mario Bava. M.: Mario Bonotti. Scgf.: Carlo Vignati. Mus.: Rico Simeone. Int.: Aldo Fabrizi (Peppe Valenzi, detto ‘Passaguai’), Peppino De Filippo (ragionier Mazza), Ave Ninchi (Margherita), Luigi Pavese (uomo del cocomero), Nita Dover (Marisa), Enrico Luzzi (il seccatore), Giovanna Ralli (Marcella), Carlo Delle Piane (Gino), Pietro De Vico (fidanzato di Marcella), Tino Scotti (commendator Villetti). Prod.: Alfa Film XXXVII. DCP. Bn.
La famiglia Passaguai was Fabrizi’s greatest directorial success, and he immediately made two sequels (La famiglia Passaguai fa fortuna and Papà diventa mamma). The film is based on a story by Anton Germano Rossi, a humourist for the satirical magazine “Marc’Aurelio”, which Federico Fellini and Ettore Scola also worked for. While at the beach in Fiumicino on an August Sunday, a middle-class family encounters the pettiness of life. The protagonist is surrounded by characters whose cheerful friendliness masks their vices: a freeloading son (Carlo Delle Piane) and another one who only blows raspberries, a smarmy office colleague (Peppino De Filippo), a hysterical and childish office manager (Tino Scotti) who is having an affair with the secretary, and especially his wife, played by an extraordinary Ave Ninchi, Fabrizi’s perfect female sidekick.
The choral structure and pace make the film’s tone frenetic with a sense of humour that goes beyond customary realism and spills over into parody and almost the absurd: “Using a flimsy plot as a canovaccio for his creations and ideas, Fabrizi blends the characteristics of his comedy… in a structure that alternates even slapstick elements… with more traditional situations based on variety shows or boulevard theatre, resulting in hilarious comic effects” (Paolo Mereghetti). Fabrizi proved to be a surprising comedy film director, making the most of Mario Bava’s unusual photography, high-contrast even in the exterior beach shots, and fast-paced editing that alternates with elegant sequence shots. It makes for great comparison with the popular realism of Luciano Emmer’s Domenica d’agosto (Sunday in August), which came out one year earlier.