Ettore Scola

Sog.: dal romanzo La panne di Friedrich Dürrenmatt. Scen.: Sergio Amidei, Ettore Scola. F.: Claudio Cirillo. M.: Raimondo Crociani, Loredana Cruciani. Mus.: Armando Trovajoli. Int.: Alberto Sordi (Alfredo Rossi), Michel Simon (Zorn, il procuratore), Pierre Brasseur (conte La Brunetière), Charles Vanel (Dutz, il giudice- presidente), Claude Dauphin (Buisson, il cancelliere), Janet Agren (Simonetta), Giuseppe Ma oli (Pilet), Dieter Ballmann (meccanico), Hans Ballmann (meccanico). Prod.: Dino De Laurentiis per Produzioni De Laurentiis International Manufacturing Company, Columbia Films DCP. D.: 106’.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

At the beginning of the seventies some films labelled as ‘Comedy Italian Style’ expressed an edgier bitterness in defining the degeneration of the Italian bourgeoisie. In just over a year three films were released: Lizzani’s Roma bene (1971), an unforgiving image of industry and aristocracy; Risi’s In nome del popolo italiano (1971) where a corrupt entrepreneur is harangued by a judge; and The Most Wonderful Evening of My Life (1972) directed by Ettore Scola, where a masterful Alberto Sordi is Alfredo Rossi, a fabric salesman from Rome who lives in Milan and who meets a beautiful woman on a motorbike, while going to Lugano in order to illegally deposit some money, and falls into a surreal trap. He ends up in a castle in the Swiss woods, where four elderly judges put him on trial during a sumptuous dinner. It seems like a game but has an unexpected ending.

Scola and the scriptwriter Sergio Amidei were inspired by Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s beautiful short story A Dangerous Game (1956), adapting the main character, who is the incarnation of crude cynicism, into an everyday Italian ‘monster’ who is so narcissistic and insolently believing to be above the law that it pleases him to be described as a criminal.

Scola and Amidei modify some elements of the story, magnificently transporting the questioning crescendo that strip the misdeed committed by the average man, thanks to the cutting sarcasm in the dialogues, the disturbing atmosphere at the castle, the nest dark and red colours of Claudio Cirillo’s photography, Luciano Ricceri’s sets and the four Stradivarius that revolve around Sordi, all venerable elders of French cinema: the rabelasian Michel Simon, the frosty Claude Dauphin, the crafty Charles Vanel and the fox-like Pierre Brasseur, who died suddenly at the end of filming. Underrated by critics and the public when it was released at Christmas time, the film ushered in a new phase in cinema for Scola, who for the first time had been inspired by a literary text and who gives claustrophobia a narrative dimension.

It is also a signi cant film in the collaboration between Sordi and Scola (beginning in the fifties, when the latter was a scriptwriter), enhancing the features of cowardice and opportunism which were already present in the character Di Salvio with Will Our Heroes Be Able to Find their Friend Who Has Mysteriously Disappeared in Africa? (1968), with a hint of ruthlessness in Come una regina (episode in I nuovi mostri, 1977) and in the uneven Romanzo di un giovane povero (1995).

In the businessman who secretly moves his money from Lombardy to Switzerland we cannot help recognizing the future Italian Prime Minister, who was then taking his first steps as an entrepreneur.

Roberto Chiesi

Copy From

The film was restored in 2K by Sony Pictures at Colorworks. The 35mm original release print was scanned at 4K at at Colorworks. Digital image restoration to correct for damage was completed at Prasad Group in India, and audio restoration at Chace Audio by Deluxe. Color correction and DCP completed at Colorworks