Given its all-star cast – Sylvia Kristel, Laura Antonelli, Monica Vitti and Ursula Andress as the women, Michele Placido and Roberto Benigni amongst the men – this 1979 sex comedy promises a lot.
Sadly it fails to deliver, thus proving a less than illustrious end to veteran director Luigi Zampa’s career, one stretching all the way back to the 1930s and encompassing all manner of productions.
Each of the female stars features in two story segments, all devoted to the age-old battle of the sexes. Here there is also a contrast between the Italian and English titles, with the Italian Letti selvaggi or Wild Beds proving more apt by virtue of its implicit equal opportunities nature and the English Tigers (Tigresses, surely?) in Lipstick more indicative of masculine fears at the predatory female, a figure who is certainly present, even predominant, but also countered by her male equivalent in the Andress / Placido segment and the male chauvinist professor in Kristel’s second segment.
The first issue is that most of these sketches aren’t really all that funny, having something of a shaggy dog quality to them.
The best, funniest, vignette is tellingly the shortest, as the second of Andress’s characters suddenly whips open her coat in the middle of a crowded strada to reveal that she isn’t wearing all that much underneath, thus precipitating a pile up. The punchline is that she’s in league with the proprietor of the garage that ‘just happens’ to be right next to the scene of the accident...
The second is that there’s something of a split amongst the female leads, between those who are ‘actors’ and those who are ‘bodies’. There’s a tendency to gain on the former count and lose on the latter, and vice versa. What’s less apparent, conspicuous in its absence, is someone who embodies both these virtues, namely an Edwige Fenech.
There’s no doubting Vitti’s abilities as a comic actress, whether from her other work within the form or her two roles here, but she’s really isn’t one to get her breasts out. Kristel, meanwhile, is happy to display her charms, but really isn’t much of a comic actress.
The other thing here is that none of the female leads are really at their peak, with this a good five or ten years earlier in each case. Andress and Vitti are certainly well preserved, and game, but Zampa doesn’t quite let the former prove her Ayesha-style agelessness as much as I’d (we’d) like.
Spot the Argento connection
In sum, a harmless and moderately entertaining way to spend 90 minutes; it’s just that the cast seems to offer so much more...