If you’ve ever watched Italian TV you’ve probably noticed that it’s a little different from American TV – and I’m talking about the sex. It’s not that people are having sex on Italian TV, but there is an implied sexuality in everything. I was watching a morning talk show and a doctor used a beautiful bikini clad showgirl as a visual aid as he described the human digestive system.
Sex is everywhere in Italian culture because sexuality is important – and not something to get embarrassed by or shield children from. When Larry King asked Sophia Loren if it bothered her that people viewed her as a sex object she looked confused and then said, “Why would it?” It’s a compliment.
So it’s no surprise that modern Italian comedies are going to be pretty sexy – most of them. I have a few favorites like “Tu La Conosci Claudia?” (Do you know Claudia?”) and “L’Uomo Perfetto” (The perfect man) that are funny, don’t rely on boobs for jokes, and great American versions of them could be made. (I see Reese Witherspoon as Claudia and Vincent Chase in L’Uomo Perfetto).
And while I love watching even the ones with the boob jokes, because, after all, I love Italian movies, some of them are a little too silly even for me. Exhibit A: Natale a New York (Christmas in New York). Starring Christian De Sica, the son of legendary Italian filmmaker Vittorio De Sica (The Bicycle Thief – is there any way that he is not rolling over in his grave?). Christmas in New York reminds me of those old Doris Day movies (and to be fair, I enjoy them) with their sexy slapstick and everyone making eyes at everyone else. It’s got a huge cast with B actors and all the characters running around frenetically in some kind of wacky seduction scenario. One young man is on an errand for his boss and trying not to be late for his own wedding, another man is trying to control himself so that he doesn’t screw up his prenuptial agreement with his rich wife, and a woman is chasing an old flame while ducking her husband, who doesn’t know that she too is in NY. The hilarity is nonstop – a little too much for me.
OK, I love Italian movies – but I don’t have to love ALL of them; do I? I just can’t help think that if Italian filmmakers could make more movies like Tu La Conosci Claudia and L’Uomo Perfetto maybe more Italians would go see Italian movies in Italy – and stop preferring American ones.