Having seen only one film Chains which I caught last night, I have a hunch that the set is going to be my favorite of all Eclipse sets. The film was so much fun that I can't wait to see the rest of the set. Actually watching the film was like reliving Christmas dinners with my family!
My grandparents from both sides of my family are from Italy (Napoli and Palermo) and two decades ago when I was discovering Fellini and Antonioni, I asked my grandparents if they had seen anything by either one of those directors. They were not sure but they described the films they watched when they were younger back in the 1940s - 1950s. Their descriptions sound awfully a lot like Chains.
I was exhilarated by the sublime Southern Italian sensibilities of Chains - the family unit complete with nonna, the Catholic symbolism, the Southern Italian songs, and so forth. The saint under glass on the bureau - my grandparents had the same thing. It was really lovely to see the Napoli / Amalfi coast, that birthday dinner party part was amazing - a celebration overlooking a bay and the intense discomfort invading the song-filled air as we fixate on an obsessive ex-lover stalker sitting next to the birthday wife. Fabulous stuff.
Looking up Matarazzo on Hulu, I discovered two titles: Torno and He Who Is Without Sin. Does that mean Criterion is planning to release them on disc? I am thinking about joining Hulu just to watch those films after I'm finished with the set.
I watched 'Chains' last night and enjoyed it immensely for what it is, an unashamed, albeit immaculately sculpted, tearjerker.
And I'm looking forward to watching the remaining films in the set.
What this film had going for it to raise it above 'yer bog-standard Hollywood melodrama' was a great script, carefully modulated pacing, and an assured hand in the director's chair.
The film knew its target audience and milked them for everything it had: the religious invocations were classically Italian
I'm still trying to think who the two leads reminded me of: at times the lead actress reminded me of Ava Gardner, and at other times even Katy Jurado, but more often than not I think a favourite actress of Luis Bunuel; the actor resembled, at least superficially, Serge Reggiani, but I'm sure there's somebody else; perhaps somebody who featured in an Fellini film or two.
Best performance for me, by a country mile
, was Rosalia Randazzo, who played Angelina: cute, precocious, devious, inquisitive, manipulative: she was all these things and more. I wonder whatever happened her when she grew up?Loved the tenor tunes; hopefully we'll be getting more of them