Tuesday, January 23, 2007

MAFIA MOVIE MANIA! Just as these have been good times for weird westerns, these have also been good times for revivals of pre-Godfather mafia movies. I saw House of Strangers back in June, then saw Me and My Gal, a Spencer Tracy-Joan Bennett pre-Coder that swung rapidly from comedy to drama to suspense and what-have-you.

The mafia isn't mentioned by name in Me and My Gal, but its American mobsters come across very much like those in House of Strangers--grim and very family-oriented--and the context must have been understood by anyone with a clue.

(For the record, I note that Me and My Gal, like Animal Crackers, also parodies Eugene O'Neill's Strange Interlude. The still on the right is from the relevant scene.)

Now another pre-1972 mafia movie has come to light in Manhattan. Like Me and My Gal, Mafioso also draws from many genres. Set in Italy circa 1962, Mafioso stars Alberto Sordi [left] and starts like an industrial film, segues into a travelogue, and morphs through comedy and drama in telling the story of a Sicilian who returns home and becomes ensnared in his family and community roots. It's an unusual, excellent, well-shot (by Armando Nannuzzi) film that--to my surprise--isn't well-served by Rialto's trailer, which oversells it as a comedy. I recommend it!

Bennett/Tracy Still: Film Forum/Photofest

No comments: