Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Ricchi, ricchissimi... praticamente in mutande / Don't Play with Tigers

There’s quite a difference between the Italian and English titles for this three part sex comedy anthology directed by Sergio Martino.

The Italian, Ricchi, ricchissimi, practicamente in mutande literally translates as rich, richer, practically in (the) underwear, referring to hotter / colder kind of game and thus providing a more apt analogy for the ‘nearly there’ sexual outcomes of the three stories.

They are framed via the device of a day in the life of a court, where the judge presides over the three cases, each presented via flashback narrated by the male accused, incarnated by Pippo Caruso, Lino Banfi and Renato Pozzetto respectively.

In the first he takes his wife and sons to the beach and builds a beach hut but is then understandably threatened and troubled by the presence of a free-living and loving group of French nudists, led by a rather well-endowed man, who have also decide to set up camp there...

In the second he’s a businessman, the owner of a successful sausage factory, who believes he has attracted the attentions of a German contessa, with all manner of farcical antics ensuing as he thus tries to avoid his own family...

In the third he’s another businessman, the owner of an struggling shipbuilders, who sees salvation in the form of persuading an Arab sheik to commission a yacht. Unfortunately the sheikh takes an undue interest in his wife, wanting her to join his harem as the brunette pearl amongst the existing 12 blond ones as part of the deal.

While the second and third episodes also feature Janet Agren and Edwige Fenech respectively, the latter also being paired with her old giallo colleague George Hilton as the Sheikh, fans of the two actresses may be disappointed the lack of actual T&A on display, all of which is concentrated in the first story and of an equal opportunities nature.

If the filmmakers may be accused of playing on stereotypes, particularly in the third episode, this is offset by their fair-minded skewering of various Italian types, whether the judiciary, the bourgeoisie or the proletariat and the various comic reversals and misidentifications that occur as the narratives are resolved.

Here, we might also consider a skit from the contemporaneous British show The Young Ones, representative of a new comedy that purported to reject the racist and sexist values of its predecessor: in an Arab court, the advisor asks the sheikh if he would like to see the foreign ambassador over the subject of their alleged mandatory cruelty. Yes, replies the sheikh. Which bit of him would you like to see? asks the advisor.

Above all, however, is that it is simply funny - and more specifically essentially harmlessly so.

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