Thursday, December 20, 2007
Avanti!; romantic comedy, USA/ Italy, 1972; D: Billy Wilder, S: Jack Lemmon, Juliet Mills, Clive Revill, Edward Andrews, Gianfranco Barra, Franco Angrisano, Giselda Castrini
Wealthy Wendell leaves New York for Rome, Italy in an airplane after he gets the news that his father, president of the company he works in, died there in a car accident. On his journey he meets the blond Pamela who seems to know him. Arriving in the hotel, Wendell discovers from manager Carlo that his father died together with the woman he had an secret affair with. Even worse - Pamela is her daughter! After the corpses disappear, Wendell discovers them at some peasants who want money for their ruined vineyard. Still, he slowly falls for Pamela and realizes their relationship has many parallels with the one of their parents so they decide to see each other.
One of Billy Wilder's last films surprisingly wasn't noticed at all even though it's a very ostentative romantic comedy in the best Wilderean style. Jack Lemmon often knew to be coiled in his career, but here he is in top notch shape as Wendell, while despite a certain eccentric tone the gags are as a whole typically touching and clever for the famous director, which can already be noticed in the exposition: at the airport, a 'dwarf' plane lands in front of a giant plane, from which the main protagonist exists to enter the second one. The dialogues are often sublime, especially between Wendell and the hotel manager Carlo, from their first encounter ("I apologize your father died in the car accident." - "Why do you have to apologize for that?" - "Because it happened right here in Italy!" - "But he was a careless driver." - "No, it was a bad curve!") up to the realization his father had an affair ("That bastard! At his age of 67! How could he?!" - "I would be proud if my father..." - "Shut up! And you Pamela! Your mother should be ashamed of herself!"). The parallels of Wendell's and Pamela's relationship with the one of their parents are slightly overstretched, the story is slightly too long, but the ending wraps up everything nicely and sends a nostalgic message about transience. Out of 6 Golden Globe nominations, only Lemmon managed to win the award as best actor in a motion picture - musical or comedy.