Arlecchino Cinema > 10:00

La riffa – Episodio di Boccaccio ’70

Vittorio De Sica


Tuesday 28/06/2022


Original version with subtitles

LA RIFFA Episodio di Boccaccio ‘70

Film Notes

La riffa is the fourth episode in a film whose overall structure was conceived by Cesare Zavattini. Initially the plan was for ten stories in the style of Boccaccio – that is to say playful, free, and typically Italian – to be entrusted to ten directors and set in ten different cities. Then, the number of directors was reduced to four: Monicelli (Renzo e Luciana), Fellini (Le tentazioni del dottor Antonio), Visconti (Il lavoro) and De Sica… After the feat of La ciociara, De Sica again paired up with Sophia Loren, whose explosive physicality, accentuated by the red dress she wears throughout, is celebrated by Otello Martelli’s cinematography. Zoe (Loren) works at a fairground target practice stall. To help two impoverished colleagues, she decides to offer herself as the first prize in a lottery, agreeing to spend the night with the owner of the winning ticket…
With exuberant women and brutish, desiring men, Zavattini’s screenplay depicts a setting that is jovial, magical and paradoxical. It draws a connection (but also a dissonance) between the sacred and the profane and between natural impulses and society’s rules. All these elements are immersed in a festive and vulgar Romagna, specifically the agricultural town of Lugo, with a cattle market teeming with tradesmen, fishermen, peasants, ploughmen and brokers already affected by the fever of the economic miracle…
The alternation between contradictory terms is echoed by the protagonist’s verbal oscillations between a Neapolitan accent and northern inflections (topped off with a drawl that can only have been suggested by De Sica). Linguistically, too, Zoe is precariously ba anced between a pre-industrial past and a present in which economic security is everything.

Gualtiero De Santi, Vittorio De Sica, Il Castoro, Milan 2003

Cast and Credits

Sog., Scen.: Cesare Zavattini. F.: Otello Martelli. M.: Adriana Novelli. Scgf.: Elio Costanzi. Mus.: Armando Trovajoli. Int.: Sophia Loren (Zoe), Luigi Giuliani (Gaetano), Alfio Vita (Cuspet). Prod.: Carlo Ponti, Antonio Cervi per Concordia Cinematografica, Cineriz, Francinex, Gray-Film. DCP. D.: 50’. Col.