SEDUCED AND ABANDONED (Pietro Germi, 1964)

Those who enjoy Pietro Germi’s comedies see satire in them, while I see broad, raucous farce given a mere patina of satire to justify their sour disposition and rank misogynism. Sedotta e abbandonata gave me not a single moment of pleasure. It won as best film and for Germi’s direction at the David di Donatello Awards, and the Italian critics named the script—by Germi, Luciano Vincenzoni, and the team of Agenore Incrocci and Furio Scarpelli—the year’s best.
     What precisely do the film’s satirical elements address? Given the Mafia, the mindset that it has imposed on ordinary Sicilians such as Vincenzo Ascalone (Saro Urzi, best actor, Cannes, Italian critics), who, learning that one daughter’s fiancé, Peppino, has impregnated his younger daughter, Agnese (Stefania Sandrelli, a few years too old for the part), sends out his son, Antonio, to dispatch this lowlife, who has resisted Vincenzo’s attempt to strongarm him into marrying Agnese, to save the “family honor,” on grounds that he should be able to marry a virgin! Since then, Peppino has fled; eventually, Vincenzo tries to prevent the hit that he has assigned to his son. Germi springs sideline swipes at Sicilian authority, including the judicial system.
     I was not amused while watching any of this, especially as Germi unconscionably arranges multiple scenes where Agnese is slapped up and slapped down by Vincenzo—grotesque events that continue long after we’ve gotten the point. Agnese’s mother at one point intervenes, protesting that the child might after all be pregnant, as though beating an unpregnant adolescent is perfectly okay. I know what you’re thinking: well, this argument is the woman’s strategy for getting her husband to stop his abuse of Agnese. Believe me, as the moment is played, there is no issue of “strategy.”

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