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Starring Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni, Vittorio De Sica's anthology "Ieri, Oggi, Domani" ("Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow") from 1963 offers three comedic tales executed with the typical sense of quality the director is known for. "Adelina of Naples" sees Loren as black marketeer of smokes Adelina Sbaratti in 1953, but as she is caught, she is issued a fine. Under the threat of having her go to jail over her inability to pay or allowing her furniture to be repossessed instead, she finds a legal loophole that prevents pregnant women to be incarcerated, leading her to try to get and stay pregnant, much to her unemployed husband Carmine's (Mastroianni) exhaustion. In "Anna of Milan" Loren is the wife of a rich industrialist Anna Molteni, with Mastroianni her illicit lover Renzo, but during a drive in her husband's Rolls Royce, both end up re-thinking what is really important to them. Guest starring the film's composer Armando Trovajoli as a flashy Ferrari driver for whom the materialistic Anna leaves his poorer joy boy for without much further consideration. Finally, "Mara of Rome" sees Loren as a prostitute named Mara for whom a student priest Umberto (Giovanni Ridolfi) falls for, leading him to threatening to quit his studies in order to be with her. Therefore Mara promises to set the young man back on the right trail with the help of reluctant rich client Augusto (Mastroianni). This final segment is famous for featuring Loren's sexy striptease show.
Light comedy, with the first part undoubtedly the best, this isn't the deepest stuff the director's done, but is very entertaining nevertheless - so much so that it even won the Oscar for best foreign-language film. "Adelina" pumps out the director's favourite comedy style of a raucous farce in its escalation of needing for Adelina to be continuously pregnant, a task which eventually even her husband can no longer perform, leading her to start expanding on her choice of bed fellows for the desperate bid to stay of out of jail as legally she only has six months of freedom following a pregnancy. It's all much fun and is filled with that typical expressive aplomb Italians are known for. "Anna" is much the shortest of the three, and in which relatively little happens, but which has a sweet sense of irony when it contrasts the genuine desire for love Renzo feels as opposed to the financial comfort Anna desires over pure love, despite her words to the contrary. Her final decision as to which brings her more happiness is likely no surprise to anyone. "Mara" by consequence ends up being perhaps the least impressive of the three, though really only marginally so as the story itself is still a fun twist in Mara being the responsible prostitute to not let her admirer stray from the righteous path of the clergy he needs to go on (you know Italians and family obligations). And come on: Sophia Loren in her prime doing striptease. Sexy, man, sexy! In the end, this is on the better side of De Sica's comedic films and the chemistry between Loren and Mastroianni, at the time the biggest of Italian super stars, is undeniable. Entertaining, fun, and just an all out delightful film. (c) berlioz 2014