Sog., Scen.: Diego Fabbri, Marco Ferreri, Rafael Azcona. F.: Benito Frattari (L’igiene coniugale), Enzo Serafin (Prime nozze, La famiglia felice), Mario Vulpiani (Il dovere coniugale). M.: Renzo Lucidi. Scgf.: Massimiliano Capriccioli. Mus.: Teo Usuelli. Int.: Ugo Tognazzi (Nicola Garaviglio / Michele / Frank / Igor Savoia), Shirley Anne Field (Laura), Tom Felleghy (Lamberto Ferlazzo), Gaia Germani (Gigliola Ferlazzo), Gianni Bonagura (veterinario), Catherine Faillot (la moglie), Tecla Scarano (la suocera), Alexandra Stewart (Nancy), Anna María Aveta (Sally), Rina Mascetti (Mia). Prod.: Henryk Chroscicki, Alfonso Sansone per Sancro Film, Transinter Films. DCP. Bn.
After Le italiane e l’amore and Controsesso, Ferreri continued his voyage as an interloper in the anthology comedy genre with a film directed entirely by him. It stars Ugo Tognazzi, who was one of the top names in Italian comedy at the time. The film tells four stories about marriage: two couples who arrange a ‘wedding’ for their dogs; a husband dealing with his wife’s lack of sexual desire one evening in bed; a couple in America who take part in a group therapy session in order to salvage their sex life; in the near future (1984, of course) human beings marry plastic dolls created for that purpose, and have plastic children.
Ferreri seems to suggest that there’s no escape from the squalor of married life. The wretchedness of men is reflected in female characters portrayed with more than a touch of misogyny – in such an inhuman world, women can’t even aspire to the role of victims, ending up as mere accomplices, albeit sometimes formidable ones. Nothing escapes the film’s mirthless ridicule: not the new bourgeoisie breaking away from mores, nor the church’s attempts to modernise. The hollowness of the institution of marriage is laid bare by brutal comparison with its root, and perhaps its antithesis: sex. In the first episode, the most anecdotal, the opening scene is immersed in a vision of normality that is almost a case study. The storytelling is completely straightforward – Ferreri does not underline, he shows no surprise. The second episode, depicting a couple going to bed, hardly even contains a story, but rather it is a report without a climax. In the last episode, science fiction is used simply to project the consequences of the weariness shown in the preceding episodes. The scene is overly expository, but it is the germ of the apocalyptic and anti-utopistic Ferreri that shines in his later films, from La cagna and Il seme dell’uomo onwards. The use of sets, whether archaeological or futuristic, also foreshadows the next phase of the director’s work.