Sunday, 16 August 2009

Cicciabomba / Fatty Girl Goes to New York

Following on from my previous piece, this 1982 comedy from Umberto Lenzi can be best summarised as one of those "I've got to eat" projects.

The star of the show is pop singer Donatella Rettore, billed under her last name in accord with her wishes: "Non chiamatemi Donatella! Il mio nome รจ Rettore!" / "Don't call me Donatella! My name is Rettore!"

She plays teenager Miris Bigolin, an aspiring disc jockey - albeit on church radio - in a provincial northern Italian town, whose large size prevents her from declaring her love for altar-boy Mirko, who then plays a nasty practical joke upon her.

Depressed, Miris is about to commit suicide when she learns that she has won a competition she had entered some time before. The prize is a trip to New York. There Miris meets Baronessa Judith von Kemp (Anita Ekberg, looking well past her best as far as glamourous star attractions go) who chooses her to test a new slimming treatment.

Miris loses her excess weight and undergoes an extensive makeover, thereby giving Rettore fans the opportunity to see their idol as herself, or at least without the fat suit.

Note how the poster emphasises Rettore as star, with Lenzi and Ekberg getting second billing.

The new Miris-Rettore returns home to learn that Mirko has seduced and abandoned her younger sister Deborah, who is now pregnant by him. She thus proceeds to extract her revenge...

While intermittently funny, Cicciabomba is best described as being for Rettore's fans - there must be some out there - and Lenzi completists, such as myself, but very much in that order.

For Lenzi fans, the issue is that the film is utterly impersonal and could have been made to the same standard by any of a dozen other directors.

Admittedly, comedy can be a difficult genre for the non-specialist to make their mark within, all the more so when working with a star whose name undoubtedly represents the film's main selling point.

Nonetheless, as Lucio Fulci's collaborations with Lando Buzzanca demonstrate, it is also possible for the director to impart something more personal into the proceedings: Dracula in the Provinces and The Senator Likes Women are comedies whose incorporation of elements of surrealism, anti-clericalism and class conflict marks them as of a piece with Fulci's better-known horror and giallo entries.

They may be marginal compared to these films, or a Beatrice Cenci, but they nevertheless confirm the impression that a genuine auteur, someone whose work is marked by the same obsessions, is behind them.

Indeed, by commutating Fulci into Lenzi's place here, we can well imagine what he might have done to make it his own in playing up the anti-clerical angle Lenzi only hints at, or featuring surrealistic food nightmares...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In Italy Rettore was a star in the lighter pop side of the post punk/new wave movement, late Seventies-early Eighties. Her major hits are "Splendido splendente", "Kobra" (famous for the lyrics, a metaforycal description of a blow job), and "Lamette".
The latest ("Give me a razorblade/So I can cut my veins") can be heard at the beginning of "Notte prima degli esami", teen blockbuster of 2005 (incidentally, Argento considers teen movies like this, the worst part of italian cinema)