Judge Gordon Sullivan is suddenly craving Italian food.
Together! The Most Rib-Tickling Team Since Adam and Eve!
Vittorio De Sica made a name for himself as part of the Italian neo-realist school that sprang up after WWII. Although he was instrumental in the movement (releasing one of its archetypal films, Bicycle Thieves), when his film Umberto D. earned little initial acclaim or box office, it appeared he might be done for. Then, he found Sophia Loren. He directed her in an Oscar-winning performance for Two Women, and then the pair teamed up again (along with Fellini favorite Marcello Mastroianni) for Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow, the Best Foreign Lanugage Film of 1964. After a couple of so-so releases on DVD, it gets a hi-def upgrade.
Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow is a film comprised of three shorter films, each featuring Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni:
"Adelina of Naples" concerns Adelina (Loren), a woman who owes a fine and can't pay. Because she can't pay, she will be sent to jail. However, because of a loophole, she can't be placed in jail if she is pregnant or has had a baby in the last six months. Because her husband (Mastroianni) is too tired to perform after their first seven children, Adelina must decide between allowing another man to impregnate her or going to jail.
"Anna of Milan" is about Anna (Loren) and her lover (Mastroianni), who take a car ride and along the way must decide if they really want to remain lovers.
"Mara of Rome" finds Loren playing a high-class prostitute, with Mastroianni as one of her clients. When a young seminary student falls for Loren, she enlists Mastroianni's help in convincing the young man that the seminary is more important than her body.
Although not the revolutionary surprise that was Bicycle Thieves, Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow is still a bold film for 1964, in more ways than one. First, there's the three-story structure. All the stories are independent, but have the same director and star the same cast. While other portmanteau films existed before YTT, they were usually directed by different individuals, with different casts that were somehow tied together by a framing device. We're given no such comfort here, and are instead presented with three stories without any context.
The result is a fascinating look at male/female relationships in 1960s Italy. That's another way in which YTT was a bold move…the film is refreshingly frank about sexual matters. The first story features a practical pregnancy, the second is all about a married woman and her lover, and third is about a prostitute (and features a striptease from Sophia Loren towards the end). The film perfectly skirts the line between presenting simple stereotypes and tweaking them for our satirical enjoyment. That may be the true beauty of Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow: it can be taken on one level as a simple comedy of sexual manners, with a dashing (though admittedly often humbled) Mastroianni and a sexy Loren, or it can be read as a satire on sex roles and emerging sexual freedom.
Moving beyond plot and theme, Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow is beautifully shot by De Sica. There's a depth to his images that gives the sometimes slight moments of the film a bit of depth, and his use of cinemascope is masterful. I doubt anyone photographed Loren better. Sophia Loren herself is delightful as she embodies three different ideas of femininity, alternatately charming and exasperating to her male lead, Mastroianni. Given the less glamorous role (the men in these three films always seem to fall under Loren's spell), Mastroianni maintains his good humor and has a charming, everyman air to him.
This Blu-ray is being released as part of the Sophia Loren Award Collection. The AVC-encoded transfer looks generally pretty good for a film of this vintage. Colors are bright, detail is generally strong, and blacks are sufficiently deep. The whole look has a film-like quality, even if I'm not always impressed with the look of the grain here. The print is surprisingly free of damage. The mono soundtrack does a fine job with the Italian audio, and is generally free of hiss and distortion.
The first disc includes trailer and a still gallery, while the second disc contains the feature-length documentary Vittorio D. It's a fairly comprehensive look at the director's work, including his films with Loren. This extra is great, and as the only serious one here it's appreciated. The second disc also includes some galleries.
Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow is an interesting film that collides the careers of three of Italy's main cinematic talents in the 1960s. Though not quite as fresh as it was in 1963, the film is still an interesting look at gender roles in Italian culture, and still retains much of its humor decades later. This Blu-ray is a solid, if unremarkable, presentation of the film, and the inclusion of the feature-length documentary on its director makes this set pretty easy to recommend.
For all time, Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow is not guilty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Kino Lorber
• Bonus Film
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