On sale now from Arrow Academy. Also on Blu-ray.
In the mid-sixties, famed producer Dino De Laurentiis brought together the talents of five celebrated Italian directors for an anthology film. Their brief was simple: to direct an episode in which Silvana Mangano plays a witch.
Luchino Visconti and screenwriter Cesare Zavattini (Bicycle Thieves) open the film with The Witch Burned Alive, about a famous actress and a drunken evening that leads to unpleasant revelations. Civic Sense is a lightly comic interlude from Mauro Bolognini with a dark conclusion, and The Earth as Seen from the Moon sees Italian comedy legend Totò team up with Pier Paolo Pasolini for the first time for a tale of matrimony and a red-headed father and son. Franco Rosso concocts a story of revenge in The Sicilian’s Wife, while Vittorio De Sica casts Clint Eastwood as Mangano’s estranged husband in An Evening Like the Others, concluding The Witches with a stunning homage to Italian comic books.
A film that brings together an awful lot of talent The Witches is a feature that takes in several short movies that all involve women and their actions.
Some are shorter than others (one only lasts a matter of minutes) but there are two that this reviewer enjoyed more than the others. The viewer will have their favourites, too. That isn’t to say The Witches has a bad entry in it, just some struggle against others. Regardless, the 110 minute run time has plenty to watch while it lasts.
The Earth as Seen from the Moon is directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini and concerns itself with legendary Italian comedian Toto and Ninetto Davoli as a hapless father and son duo. In search of a bride, Toto offers himself to several ladies that results in him marrying the stunning Silvana Mangano. It’s fitting that her character is named Assurda (Absurd) Cai as this is the most absurd of the stories. But the lively performances of Toto and Davoli, as well as their wigs, match this tone.
Another strong entry is An Evening like the Others, co-starring Clint Eastwood. He is married to Giovanna (Mangano), a housewife that is desperate for some love and affection from her moribund husband. Throughout the viewer sees her daydreams of berating her husband for a boring marriage or her remembering when he had a sex drive. Mangano outshines Eastwood and her performance during the final moments only confirm this. Directed by Vitttorio De Sica, the man responsible for the brilliant The Bicycle Thieves (1948).
Silvana Mangano stars in all of the entries within The Witches. She is a stunning actress and talented, although she was married to Dino De Laurentiis – the producer of this feature.
The Witches is accompanied by a great score from Oscar winner Ennio Morricone and the controversial Piero Piccioni.
It should also be noted that the opening animation sequence is very entertaining and sets the tone for the rest of the movie to come.