Il merlo maschioi is, on the direct surface a montage of Antonelli's pretty tits against Toscanini and other musical exertions. This isn't a bad premise, cinema is after all a plastic art, it has no deeper substance than its form.
The structure of the montage is loosely provided by the turmoil of the mediocre man, seeking identity in a world that keeps him rural, against his (uncomprehending) wishes. Eventually he falls upon the classic methodology, the misuse of his missus as passport into the new world.
Lando Buzzanca is a miserable actor, a sort of Adriano Celentano who can't sing. As a result Antonelli overacts the piece massively (she's a rural Veronese girl with the strongest accent of her natal Pula you could conceive). Her role as she constructs it is very much coherent, and stands as a type of womanhood that was historically better represented than say "the career woman". It could be said that the film is worth watching just for this much, if you're afflicted with the ESL curse : to see how womanhood worked as an alternative to the "only way" your nonsensical brand of socialism univocally purports.
She's always cooking la polenta, in complicated, busy kitchenwear that matches the busy wallpaper ; and he's got a camera. The psychanalitic construct flows convincingly and in parts fascinatingly -- imagine that scene where he, the anodyne, he, whose name all forget eventually forgets his own name in a bout of amnesia triggered by his wife's connivance turning against him (I do all these shameful things you ask because I love you -- do you love me too ? then how about not asking me to do the shit anymore!) and then wandering the streets in the hopes of running into any familiar scene, into any familiar one who might recognize him until eventually, in the morn, exhausted rests on a stone in the plaza by his house only to be found by the very wife in question, concerned, "Niccolo!" "Oh god damned it, that's what it was! I had it on the tip of my tongue the whole night!"
Imagine what this means, the wife went and found and cured her husband! And found him close and cured him easily, what fairytale this became ?
- 1971, by Pasquale Festa Campanile, with Lando Buzzanca, Laura Antonelli.
In English "Secret Fantasy" for some inexplicable reason. They massacre all Italian titles with a dedication worthy of a better cause, and with results that are an amusing commentary on the poverty of that culture. If you look at what's being transcribed and what it ends up transcribed as, you can not possibly avoid the funnel impression, "so this is how to write numbers in roman notation, is it ? what do you do about reals ? oh, you ignore them ? neat!" [↩]