Sunday 9 December 2007

L' Infermiera / The Sensuous Nurse

The Bottacins – Benito, Iole (Luciana Paluzzi), Italia and Gustavo – have a problem. They want the family winery to go into partnership with the American Mr Kitch (Jack Palance), but need the approval of family patriarch Uncle Leonida, which is not forthcoming.

Leonida then suffers a seizure whilst making love to his mistress. Unfortunately for the rest of the family he doesn’t die, although the doctor’s prognosis gives them hope. Any shock or stimulation could easily trigger another, unquestionably fatal, attack.

The family thus hire sexy nurse Anna (Ursula Andress) in the hope that her ministrations will speed Leonida on his way.

The first problem is that Leonida proves rather more resilient than had been diagnosed.

The second is that Anna starts to have qualms about her appointed mission.

The third is that Adone, Iole’s teenage son, starts to have suspicions that something is up...

Yet another self-referential moments

Given the scenario and the presence of frequent giallo scribe Roberto Gianviti amongst its authors, one could well imagine this 1975 sex comedy being made five years earlier as a giallo. All that would really be needed would be a change in tone, with more double-crosses or an unidentified assassin or three who took a more direct route towards neutralising those whose interventions threatened their inheritance in the manner of, say, Bay of Blood or Five Dolls for an August Moon.

In this regard, it’s worth nothing how Adone actually pointedly reads a Mondadori giallo, Strategia del delitto, at one point, or ex-military man Gustavo’s kink of getting aroused whenever he hears the sounds of battle, as macabre yet played for laughs take on eros and thanatos.

Appealing beautifully to the lowest common denominator ;-)

As a sex comedy the film pushes all the right buttons, delivering what the male viewer wants from its female cast members, most notably in the form of Andress’s slow-motion naked swim, even as it also mocks his on-screen surrogates to create that space for critical distance and reflection for those who need or desire such.

But in the end it is the honest crassness of approach, of knowing exactly what the target audience – not the critics, theorists or the chattering classes in general – want and happily giving them it, that shines through and presents the most appealing aspect of The Sensuous Nurse.

The film is available on Region 0 NTSC DVD from Noshame, with a choice of English or Italian audio and optional subtitles.

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