Mario Monicelli

Sog.: dalle novelle Le risate di gioia e Ladri in chiesa (1954) di Alberto Moravia. Scen.: Suso Cecchi d’Amico, Age e Scarpelli, Mario Monicelli. F.: Leonida Barboni. M.: Adriana Novelli. Scgf.: Piero Gherardi. Mus.: Lelio Luttazzi. Int.: Anna Magnani (Gioia Fabricotti detta Tortorella), Totò (Umberto Pennazzuto detto Infortunio), Ben Gazzara (Lello), Fred Clark (l’americano ubriacone), Edy Vessel (Milena), Mac Ronay (Alfredo). Prod.: Silvio Clementelli per Titanus. DCP. D.: 106’. Bn. 

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

Magnani and Totò constitute an inimitable, unrepeatable double act. They improvise in such a spontaneous and creative fashion that the tradition of the commedia dell’arte is resurrected.

Ben Gazzara, in L’avventurosa storia del cinema italiano. Da La dolce vita a C’era una volta il West, vol. 3, edited by Franca Faldini and Goffredo Fofi, Edizioni Cineteca di Bologna, Bologna 2021

The last of the seven films starring Totò and directed by Monicelli. It is not very well known, and the filmmaker hardly ever mentions it in interviews. Yet it is one of the best films in his filmography, as well as that of Totò. Totò here jettisons farce and burlesque (in which, it is well known, his talents shone brightly) to immerse himself in a perfect example of the comedy of manners. It constitutes a specifically Italian and virtually sublime variant, balancing irony and a (never cloying) compassion for its characters. The filmmaker creates a superb portrait of Totò, with all his characteristic features intact: a firm moral sense that overrides the humiliations that befall him, a (completely anachronistic) sense of gallantry and respect for women, an almost physiological refusal to get angry, equanimity and resignation. The scene of Totò and Magnani’s cinema experience is a classic.

Jacques Lourcelles, Dictionnaire du cinéma, Laffont, Paris 1992

Risate di gioia is very accomplished in terms of its screenplay. The film less so, because of Magnani, even if it was constructed specifically for her. Unfortunately, it was made during a period of Magnani’s life when she had become obsessed with ageing, whereas previously she didn’t care how she was dressed, or from which angle she was shot […]. She insisted on wearing a beautiful blonde wig whereas the character should have been one of those peroxide blondes who provoke the reaction, “Oh my God, what have you done!” Monicelli has a strong personality, but he was never able to handle women very well. He wasn’t able to stand up to Magnani and this spoiled a film, which remains charming, but would have been irresistible if it had been made the way we intended, with an arrogant and insolent Magnani.

Suso Cecchi d’Amico, in Scrivere il cinema, edited by Orio Caldiron and Matilde Hochkofler, Edizioni Dedalo, Bari 1988

Copy From

courtesy of Titanus. Restored in 2013 by Cineteca di Bologna and Titanus in collaboration with Rai Cinema at L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory