>One More Non-Italian Italian Movie
Before I return to writing about actual Italian movies I’d like to give a little credit to another one that isn’t – one that I’d probably list as one of my favorites of all time. Big Night is wonderful.
It’s the story of two Italian borthers, Primo and Secondo, who’ve moved to the United States and have opened an Italian restaurant – a good one. Anyone who’s been in Italy knows how serious Italians are about food, and the characters in Big Night are no exception. I remember a conversation I had with a man I met in Florence a few years back. He asked me if Cleveland was near Chicago, because his brother had moved there and opened a restaurant. His brother had told them that opening a restaurant in the United States was easy because Americans would eat anything. Of course this isn’t completely true, but it’s true that there are some things that are very different about the way our countries eat.
That’s why Primo and Secondo’s restaurant, the good, authentic Italian restaurant was failing while the second rate one across the street was a big hit. The popular one had figured out that they didn’t have to try as hard as they would have in Italy, and that’s what Primo and Secondo found so depressing.
The owner of the successful Italian restaurant promises them a big break – he’ll deliver his good friend Louis Prima and their business will be saved. The brothers put everything they have into that dinner – that big night, all their talent, energy, and money. They go for broke. Watching the food preparation and presentation for that big night is like watching an opera or a ballet – it is a true work of art.
The movie reminds me of practically every restaurant experience I’ve ever had in Italy. The service is almost always perfect, but if you order something they don’t approve of, as in the video above when the woman wants pasta with her risotto, they really don’t want to give it to you. Cappuccino with dessert? Cheese with fish? Ketchup with anything?
Are you insane? Do you want to ruin the meal? A waiter in Rome once complained bitterly to me about the table next to me – “Americans don’t know anything about food.”
“You remember I’m American; right?” I said. He just rolled his eyes as he sullenly returned to the kitchen to get whatever “crazy” thing the family had asked for.
The second best thing about Big Night is the soundtrack. There are some wonderful traditional Italian songs, lots of cool ones by Louis Prima , and Two by Claudio Villa that I just love, Stornelli Amorisi and La Strada Del Bosco. It’s almost as much fun as the movie.