Appellate Judge Rob Lineberger hasn't seen it all yet, but he's one step closer now.
In many respects, Giovannona, Long-Thigh is a complement to Ubalda, All Naked and Warm. Both were produced by Luciano Martino and directed by Sergio Martino. Both star Edwige Fenech and Pippo Franco. And both are ribald comedies. Although it has some notable naughty scenes, Giovannona lacks the gratuitous slew of nudity that made Ubalda an illicit treat. Yet Ubalda's greatest weakness (at least to these American ears) is Giovannona's greatest strength: the comedy works.
Facts of the Case
The cheese factory where Ragionier Mario Albertini (Pippo Franco, Ubalda, All Naked and Warm) works comes under government scrutiny because its fumes are killing fish nearby. Mario's boss (who for all intents and purposes is the Italian answer to Rodney Dangerfield) wants him to sway the vote of a Parliament member to save the factory. The man has but one weakness: women.
Enter Giovannona Coscialunga in arte Cocò (Edwige Fenech, Ubalda, All Naked and Warm), a streetwalker who Mario hires to seduce the wayward cabinet minister. Cocò falls for Mario, the minister falls for Cocò, the minister's secretary falls for Mario's boss…aww, forget it. Everyone ends up with everyone else, by choice or no, before this frenetic farce wraps up.
Perhaps Ubalda's medieval trappings complicated the translation, or maybe the humor in Giovannona, Long-Thigh is simply superior, but it kept me laughing throughout. Given that it is a thirty-year-old Italian farce heretofore unreleased in the States, that's saying something. NoShame has released Giovannona and Ubalda side by side, inviting comparison between the two. Given their remarkable similarities, the two most interesting comparisons are sex and humor.
Ubalda features Edwige Fenech running naked through a field in slow motion, capturing each bounce and sway with fetishistic zeal. Karin Schubert takes long, loving baths. Ubalda is a classic erotic comedy. In contrast, Giovannona has little nudity. Edwige Fenech is mostly clothed (and boy does she look good). Yet the moments of nudity are almost surreal in their exaggerated humor. For example, an extreme bird's eye view shows Fenech's breasts at the top of the frame and Pippo Franco's upturned face in the vee as he crouches on the floor below. Such shots are ribald and outrageous, but not erotic in a traditional sense.
Giovannona makes up for the lack of nudity with more sophisticated humor. The same "linguistic peculiarity" disclaimer ushers in Giovannona, and many of the gags flew over my head. But the frantic situations that characterize the farce work well in Giovannona. Its big, stupid fun is lanced with sly one liners. It is hard to reconcile big, stupid fun with sophistication, but that's the end result.
Giovannona's extras package is nearly identical—but inferior—to Ubalda's. For one thing, Giovannona provides less raw material for Revenge of Edwige's Groovy Sexadelic Reel, which ends up resembling an art school student's first foray into groovy video editing filters. The Fenech interview is yet another snippet from the one long interview that provides grist for every NoShame release starring Fenech. In a vacuum the extras aren't bad, but they aren't stimulating either.
While we're riding Giovannona's deficiencies, the audio track kicks off with a pronounced hiss that persists in one form or another throughout the movie. The video transfer is soft with poor detail, but doesn't have any major blights aside from print damage here and there. This isn't going to be a demo reel for your home theater, but it hardly needs to be. Giovannona is a heretofore unreleased comedy, and the presentation is adequate.
Giovannona, Long-Thigh is trashy and farcical, but it is somehow effective. If you like frantic comedies like Bowfinger and Mrs. Doubtfire, this one is an Italian precursor worth checking out. It isn't a completely satisfying movie, but it has its moments.
Guilty, but redeemable.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: NoShame Films
• Interview with Edwige Fenech
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