I owe Lina Wertmüller an apology. When we showed Swept Away and Seven Beauties at Cine Club in the late Seventies, I hated both and consigned her to the bin of Filmmakers I Don’t Care For.
But finally I’ve gotten around to seeing the movies that came before them—Seduction of Mimi, Love and Anarchy, All Screwed Up—and, … Wow! They are perfect Italian counterparts to what Fassbinder was doing in Germany at exactly the same time: Petra von Kant, Effie Briest, and Fox and His Friends. Essential distillations of the sexual, political and economic forces and confusions of the era. Wertmüller's humor is more robust than Fassbinder's, but hardly less bitter.
Like Fassbinder, she elicits amazing performances from her company. Giancarlo Giannini divests himself of all vanity, and explores subtly nuanced ways that an Italian male can be a total schmuck. Elena Fiore’s the most astonishing fat lady in cinema—she lights up every scene she’s in.
It seems a shame that Wertmüller's American distributors were afraid of her elaborate titles, and came up with rather ordinary English replacements. It might have added to the fun, to go see Mimi the metalworker, wounded in honor; and Film of Love and Anarchy, or, rather, This Morning, at 10, at the notorious house of prostitution on Fiore Street ...; and All Set and Nothing In Place ...