Sunday, 10 February 2008

All'onorevole piacciono le donne (Nonostante le apparenze... e purché la nazione non lo sappia) / The Senator Likes Women / The Eroticist

This 1972 comedy from Lucio Fulci is both a pleasant surprise and proves to have some surprising affinities with his better known horror and thriller work.

Not a giallo beginning with a plane arriving, but not as divorced from them as the film's status as a sex comedy would suggest

The story is simple: a presidential candidate (Lando Buzzanca) finds his careful political manoeuvring to become president may be undone by his compulsion to pinch women's bottoms when a blackmailing priest winds up with some incriminating photos...

Loss of control

Or, in other words, we have something close to a giallo – forbidden images of a citizen above suspicion plus anti-clericalism – but reworked as a sex comedy / political satire:

“As chief of politics, I'm confused.”

“Right, left, we're in a complete mess here. Look, all we know is that Senator Puppis is the major exponent of the left-wing fringe of a right-wing movement in the centre party. It's a fringe that finds itself on the left after the break-up of a moderate right-wing movement.”

The dreamscape void and the alluring yet dangerous woman, but it's not Lizard in a Woman's Skin...

The connection is further cemented by the fact that the politician undergoes analysis in a bid to determine what lies at the root of his condition, leading to a primal scene of his priest mentor (the great Lionel Stander) laying down the law of the father and a number of other dream sequences which wouldn't be completely out of place in A Lizard in a Woman's Skin (Anita Strindberg has a role in both films) or The Beyond.

Interpellation by the father?

The dreamscape void, again

You see the roots of the blind girl Emily's silent, slow-motion, repeated run out of her empty ghost house there in the repeated like slow-motion leaps the senator makes towards a row of nun backsides and, in its recalling of Rene Clair's Entr’acte an indication that Fulci's referencing of Antonin Artaud was decidedly more than an attempt to claim intellectual legitimacy for anyone who might have been listening.

Note the leaping / landing figure; this image repeats three times, no doubt conveying the barring of the signified or somesuch psychobabble...

The Clair connection is further enhanced by the way Fulci plays with sound and image early on: we cut from the TV station reporting on the latest round of elections in parliament, where we watch the pundits watching the screen behind them (all in black and white), to a shop window full of TV sets (black and white squares in a colour world) and the sound of cheering. But as the camera pans, however, we discover that the crowd is gathered around another window and is watching – and engaging with – a football match instead...

Fulci's direction has the subtletly of a bull in a china shop most of the time, however, with some serious overuse of the zoom lens. But equally you could visualise the same kind of material being regarded a whole lot better by many if it had borne the name Fellini...


Anonymous said...

I enjoyed this, and it's not been reviewed much. It is a bit strange at first watching the same set ups and camera moves one instinctively associates with a Fulci horror film in the context of a comedy, but having said that, the wax work idea is decidedly spooky, and the film does get a bit harder edged by the end.


herman said...

I loved this film. I laughed out loud a few times and loved the idea of "canonization" that really tickled me.

Tom is right, the film looked typical fulci and it did work suprisingly well.

I did a brief write up a while back: