Film Review: Casanova ’70

Mr Bongo Films
DVD on release

By Guy Sangster Adams

Casanova ’70 is a notable entry in the lineage of Commedia all’italiana, or Italian-style comedy, the genre which its director, Mario Monicelli, initiated with his film, Big Deal on Madonna Street (1958), and which draws its name from Pietro Germi’s film, Divorce Italian Style (1961). The iconic, and always wonderfully watch-able, Marcello Mastroianni, starred in the latter, as he does in Casanova ’70, which was produced by another heavy hitter of Italian cinema, Carlo Ponti.

Mastroianni plays Major Andrea Rossi-Colombotti, an Italian officer on secondment to NATO, and the film follows his picaresque and increasingly desperate attempts to triumph over his idiosyncratic libido that renders him impotent with women unless his life is in danger. Adventures which lead him from Paris to the Swiss Alps, and along the length of Italy, from the cage of a lion tamer, to posing as doctor to verify the virginity, for which read seducing, of a Sicilian bride to be, with her family just the other side of the door, to climbing into ever higher bedroom windows, culminating in his being tried for the murder of the jealous husband of one of his potential conquests. Conquests who all gather in the court and who are played by a fabulous line-up of Italian actresses including Virna Lisi, Marisa Mell, Michèle Mercier, and Liana Orfei.

The film, which was released in 1965 and earned a nomination for the following year’s Academy Award for Best Writing, Story, and Screenplay, is very much of its time, and all the more enjoyable for that; super stylish and super fun.

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