Published on June 19th, 2008 | by Chris2
The Secret of Santa Vittoria (1969)
What a strange movie The Secret of Santa Vittoriais. Just, well, strange. That's the only word I can think to describe it.
When Mussolini is gone, the citizens of the small Italian wine-making village place the inept drunken coward, Italo Bombolini (Anthony Quinn) into the office of Mayor. When they discover that the German army is occupying villages, soon to be including theirs, they devise a scheme to protect their *1.3 million* bottles of vino from the pillaging Nazis. Yes, that many!
They manage to pull it off, and when the Germans arrive, they find only about a fifth of that, and are at a loss to provide the rest. The German officer-in-charge, Captain von Prum (Hardy Kruger), continues to the end to get Bombolini to reveal the cache of drink, but to no avail.
What's strange about the film is just how strange it is. The villagers, and in fact the entire village seems to be a parody of sorts. Of what I'm not exactly sure, maybe some invented Italian stereotype or something. If the intent was to be "cute" about it, they could have found a better looking bunch of folks, as the whole lot of them is quite ugly! Including the well-to-do Contessa Matatesta (Virna Lisi), sorry, I just had to go there. The whole time I felt like I was in a Weird Al version of West Side Story, only without the singing and dancing.
Throw into the mix the myriad of subplots, like the Contessa's romance with the deserting Italian soldier, the fascist prisoners, Bombolini's wife.... and it just gets, well, stranger by the minute.
Quinn is the only real shining star here, trying to make the best of a comedic role that I'm not sure really fits him. At times you can almost feel his pain as he tries his best. Kruger is equally fulfilling as the German Captain, but he's got a "good nature" about him that also doesn't seem to befit his character. Have to mention the brief appearance of Nazi-typecast Karl Otto-Alberty as well!
The intent I think was to deliver a cute comedy set in wartime Italy, with a bit of romance thrown in, on top of the overarching theme of the village not caving into the Nazis, and maintaining the identity in the face of crisis. Yeah, I guess you could say that "Bumble-ini" redeems himself in the end as well, but the final scene of him dancing and acting like the fool he starts off as sort of negates it all.
The Secret of Santa Vittoria just didn't do it for me. I did laugh a few times, scratched my head a few more times, and rolled my eyes a few more than that. If you happen to catch it on the tube, then sure, if there's nothing else to see, why not?
(Sorry, its in Italian I think...)
The Secret of Santa Vittoria
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Anthony Quinn, Anna Magnani, Virna Lisi. In the closing days of WWII, a worthless drunk becomes a small-town hero, by becoming the mayor and hiding a million bottles of wine from the Germans. Directed by Stanley Kramer...
DVD InformationBinding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audience Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Brand: TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX HOME ENT
Manufacturer: MGM Home Video
Original Release Date:
- Anthony Quinn
- Anna Magnani
- Virna Lisi
- Hardy Krüger
- Sergio Franchi
Summary: The Secret of Santa Vittoria just didn't do it for me. I did laugh a few times, scratched my head a few more times, and rolled my eyes a few more than that.