Monday, 23 November 2009

Tutti figli di mammasantissima / Sons of the Godmother / Italian Graffiti

While no one could ever mistake Sons of the Godmother for a good film, it is a prime example of the possibilities that don't exist now. For its director, writer and co-star Alfio Cantalbiano was best known as a master of arms and stuntman. After his film career ended he then established a gymnasium. In other words, he was the sort of talented jack of all trades with little place now other than doing one thing and one thing only.

Moreover, the film is one which doesn't quite fit into the post-Godfather gangster filone as might be expected. While familiar crime film faces such as Tano Cimarosa and Luciano Catenacci are present, the protagonist and set up actually have more in common with the spaghetti western “servant of two masters plot” and the general sensibility the comic western.

The place is Chicago, the time is 1929. But Capone is conspicuously absent, as the Italian and Irish gangs of the Morano brothers (Catenacci and Cimarosa) and 'The Reverend' (Cantalbiano, under his Alf Thunder name) vie for control of the bootleg liquor trade, especially whisk(e)y.

They are in a stalemate until the arrival of Salvatore Mandolea (Pino Colizzi) from Sicily in a crate.

But rather than siding with his countrymen he proves a trickster figure intent upon playing both sides against the middle, although there is a departure from spaghetti western formula here insofar as romance with Catenacci's daughter Assunta is as important as the money to Mandolea; being played by Ornella Muti, one can understand why.

The spaghetti western aspect is enhanced by the frequent mass brawls, along with the use of accelerated motion and slapstick elements in the manner of the Trinity series.

The opportunity to evaluate Cantalbiano's directorial abilities more generally is hampered when watching the film in a panned and scanned version.

The De Angelis brothers provide a typically eclectic soundtrack, although one which also works in terms of indicating to us that we are not supposed to take anything too seriously.

[Interview with Cantalbiano:]

[Pollanet page:]

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