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No Shame Films presents
"In me there's only emptiness."
DVD ReviewThere was always a wry humor to neo-Realism, especially to the early pictures of Vittorio de Sica, but it would be stretching it to call something like The Bicycle Thief a comedy. Here, though, operating on a grander scale and with two of Italy's biggest movie stars, De Sica made a goofy triptych of a picture—Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow consists of three independent stories focusing on a couple, with Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni playing different characters in each. It's not a profound meditation, but it is full of charms, and De Sica's eye for just the right telling detail while always shooting on location gives the film a composed and well-structured feel.
In the first tale, Loren plays Adelina, who sells black-market cigarettes, rather brazenly, in an open-air market; she hasn't paid the fine with which she has been assessed, and when the film opens, the repo men have come to take away her family's furniture as payment. Mastroianni plays Carlo, Adelina's wily husband; he and the neighbors dupe the authorities for the day, but know that at some point, he and his wife will have to pay the piper. Or will they? The Italian authorities will not jail a pregnant woman, nor one with a baby under six months; Carlo and Adelina prove themselves extraordinarily fertile, dodging her jail term for years by keeping her perpetually pregnant. This means, of course, that their house now teems with children, and though Adelina remains lovely, Carlo would happily trade in his duties in the marriage bed for a good night's sleep at his momma's. The comedy is broad and, compared to American Hays Code pictures of the same period, sexually frank; it may overstay its welcome a bit, a vaudeville joke that goes on a bit too long, but the two leads are always charming.
The second story is the briefest, and is based on writings by Alberto Moravia; now Loren plays Anna, the world-weary bride of a real-estate developer who is always out of town. She fills her days by driving recklessly in her Rolls Royce and keeping the company of men, here Renzo, played by Mastroianni. Almost all of the story takes place with one of them behind the wheel of the car; it must have been a nightmare to shoot, and Anna especially is rather an unpleasant character; she talks of freedom, but she loves her things too much ever to do anything about it.
Finally, Loren plays Mara, a "manicurist," her euphemism of choice for entertaining several men each day in her apartment; she's sort of a Mediterranean Holly Golightly, and Mastroianni plays a hyperactive businessman in from Bologna named Augusto. But the focus of the drama, sadly for Augusto, is on the relationship between Mara and Umberto, the grandson of her next-door neighbor; Umberto is studying to be a priest, but is prepared to trade in his collar once he gets a look at Mara in her underthings. (Can you blame him?) Mara is stung by Grandma's nasty words, and promises to get Umberto to take his priestly vows; priapic, hapless Augusto is looking to take care of business between meetings. It's the broadest and most farcical of the stories; Mastroianni is a bit over the top, and we don't really share any emotional investment regarding the career plans of young Umberto. But the story ratifies De Sica's notions that all's right with the world, especially when it's shot in glorious widescreen Technicolor.
Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B
Image Transfer Review: Que bellissima! A sharp and lovely transfer; the film has been restored with care, and the establishing shots of the Italian skylines look especially sumptuous.
Image Transfer Grade: A
Audio Transfer Review: You've got the option to watch the film dubbed, badly, into English, but that track is awfully muffled; for the sake of clarity and authenticity, the Italian mono track would be the recommended choice, even if it's not without its own audio imperfections.
Audio Transfer Grade: B-
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Extras Grade: C+
Final CommentsA charming trio of short stories only very loosely linked together. It's clear that the two leads and their director had a fine old time making this movie, and that sense of fun is infectious.
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