AM NEW YORK
Peter Rainer January 19, 2007
The film godfather
Lattuada is primarily known in this country for his codirecting collaboration with Federico Fellini on Fellini's first feature, "Variety Lights" (1950). But Lattuada had been writing and directing movies since the early '40s and continued on into the late '80s. His career is ripe for a full-scale retrospective.
Compared with directors such as Fellini, Michelangelo Antonioni, or Francesco Rosi, Lattuada was distinctly unadventurous. His camerawork and storytelling were spare and straightforward. But within his limitations he had a wonderful talent. Of the half dozen or so films of his that I've seen, "Mafioso" is the best.
Alberto Sordi, that icon of Italian cinema,
plays Antonio Badalamenti, a Sicilian who makes
a nice living managing a Fiat plant in Milan.
He returns home to show off his beautiful blond
wife (Norma Bengell) and two lovely daughters
at a family reunion and also to pay homage
to Don Vincenzo, the local Mafia capo who arranged
for the Milan job
Sordi brings a heartiness to the role that pulls the movie along without a hitch, a clown with leading man looks, and both attributes serve him well here. As he sinks deeper and deeper into calamity, Antonio is ever more game. His desperation is unmistakable to everyone, except himself. It's a marvelous performance in a marvelous movie, one that sneaks up on you while you're watching it.