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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Alberto Sordi and the World of His Movies

Alberto Sordi in the role of Guglielmo il Dentone
I Complessi, 1965
no copyright infringement intended

As I was chatting with a friend on Facebook (this was a couple of days ago), we started to change jokes between each other. Not any kind of jokes - we were trying to be specific: funny trap-questions. I knew such a trap-question from an Italian movie watched sometime in the seventies. It was about a city whose name sounded very German, to answer whether it was situated in East or West Germany. Actually the city was Brazilian.

Well, I remembered the question from that movie, while I realized that I had totally forgotten the name of the city. And a joke about a city without knowing the name of that city was impossible to be considered a joke. I started to look on the web for such a Brazilian city with a German sounding name, and I came pretty soon on Manaus (actually the name had no German origin though it sounded so German: it was rather about an indigenous population, the Manaós).

Was that Manaus the only Brazilian city with a German sounding name? Were also other Brazilian cities like this one? Maybe yes, maybe no. Brazil is pretty big after all, and surprises are not excluded. Was Manaus the city mentioned in the movie, or was it another city? Well, only that movie knew the answer.

I remembered the subject pretty well. The hero was a very sympathetic guy, witty, extremely knowledgeable, a polyglot (fluent in eight languages, Arabic and Hebrew included),  possessing a great voice making him ideal for a news reader. The only issue was a physical one: his horse-like teeth. He entered a contest for a position of TV anchor, and an uninterrupted chain of comical situations followed, as everybody considered his teeth a no-no, while he was totally unaware of that, and generally very sure of himself. Against all odds eventually he won the contest and started presenting the news each evening (then enjoying the time together with the Kessler Twins).

I was almost sure that the lead actor had been Alberto Sordi, But here was the thing: I was almost unsure about the title. I wondered if the title in Romanian (as I had watched this movie in Romania) was not Dinţosul  maybe? I was far from being certain, and more than that, I had to find the Italian and/or English equivalent. I had at hand only the Google Translator, and it was not of great help in this case. No way to get a translation for dinţos. After many tries, with dinte/dantură/dinţat - dente/denti/dentata -  tooth/teeth/toothed I decided that the Italian title should be a variation for Dentata.

Based on this assumption I started to browse the list of movies featuring Alberto Sordi. No success. I was beginning to be not sure anymore about Alberto Sordi. Maybe another Italian comedian? But, as far as I remembered, it had been him, no other. I was totally confused.

I asked some friends for help. It was Deborah who found on youTube a copy of the film. Rim found it too, on imdb. It was Alberto Sordi and the title was Guglielmo il Dentone. As for the city, it was Manaus indeed. So I had been pretty close. The only thing I had missed was that this Dentone (Big Tooth) was not a whole movie! It was a sketch in I Complessi, a film from 1965, consisting in three separate segments, each one starring another great Italian actor: Nino Manfredi, Ugo Tognazzi, and of course, Alberto Sordi (who was accompanied by Franco Fabrizzi and the Kessler Twins among others).

Some consider this Dentone a cult classic of Italian cinema (wiki). I totally agree.

Guglielmo il Dentone
I Complessi, 1965
(video by solo70e80)

I must say that browsing the list of movies featuring Alberto Sordi was a great experience. Old memories came to my mind, movies that I had watched decades ago, along with other movies that I missed: Policarpo, ufficiale di scrittura from 1959, where Alberto Sordi had a minor role - this was a movie that I read a lot about, while not having the chance to watch.

The list is enormous: Sordi played his first role in 1937. You find there La Grande Guerra (The Great War), where Alberto Sordi made a duo with Vittorio Gassman. And Il Vigile (The Traffic Cop) from 1960, where the duo was with Vittorio De Sica. And Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines from 1965, where Alberto Sordi was no more no less than a pioniere del volo, a flight pioneer. And Venezia, la Lunna e Tu (Venice, the Moon and You) from 1958: this time Alberto Sordi was a gondoliere.

I had the surprise to find in the list a movie that I had enjoyed enormously as a teenager, while not being aware at all that Alberto Sordi had played in it: Quatre Pas dans les Nuages (Sous le Soleil de Provence, The Virtuos Bigamist) from 1956. The star was here Fernandel, and he had a splendid role (the ending of this film is what going to the movies is about - cranker).

There is in this movie a scene taking place in a local bus connecting villages in Provence: the bus is full, the passengers are impatient, the driver is delaying the course, nobody knows why - actually the driver's wife is in labor, and he wants to know whether it's a boy or a girl. Finally the good news comes, it's a boy! The driver tells this to the passengers, a bottle of wine moves from one passenger to another, everybody starts to sing, while the bus begins wobbling on the road. It's Provence, où tout est pris à la légère! Well, the bus driver is none other than Alberto Sordi!

(Italian Movies)



  • Este intersant, că discuția de astăzi la micul dejun a deviat cumva și am ajuns să vorbim despre Fernandel și "Il dentone". Eram copil cînd am văzut "Dințosul" și mi-am amintit de scena cu întrebarea de baraj. Merci de post!

    By Blogger Arik, at 8:39 AM  

  • Este intersant, că discuția de astăzi la micul dejun a deviat cumva și am ajuns să vorbim despre Fernandel și "Il dentone". Eram copil cînd am văzut "Dințosul" și mi-am amintit clar de scena cu întrebarea de baraj. Merci de post!

    By Blogger Arik, at 8:40 AM  

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