The Italian Job – Rediscovering ‘Blonde in Black Leather’/”Qui Comincia l’Avventura” – (Italy 1975 – 101 mins)

Posted in Rediscover by - August 15, 2014
The Italian Job – Rediscovering ‘Blonde in Black Leather’/”Qui Comincia l’Avventura” – (Italy 1975 – 101 mins)

Also known as ‘The Adventure Starts Here’, the funny and enjoyable Italian romp ‘Blonde in Black leather’, is a cheerful frolic through rural Italy, featuring two of Italy’s most enduring and beautiful stars.

Mysterious, leather-clad Monica Vitti, rides into town on her motorbike, where she encounters Claudia Cardinale’s bored laundry worker. Ditching her humdrum life, Cardinale decides to join Vitti’s experienced traveller, and before long they are embarking on a wild adventure across Italy, weaving through traffic and dodging police as they venture forth on their quest for excitement. Along the way they lose their bike, accidentally kidnap a boy and win big on the roulette tables, before getting into a poker game with the mob, which culminates in a terrific slapstick fight scene where chivalry goes out the window. In reality though, it turns out that the mysterious Vitti is actually a cinema usherette living out a fantasy during a much needed holiday, away from her pervy boss.

‘Blonde in Black Leather’ can almost be interpreted as a sort of version of ‘Don Quixote’, Cervantes famous novel, with Monica Vitti as Don Quixote aided by Claudia Cardinale’s Sancho Panza. Most of the male characters in the film are sleazy jerks or just plain stupid. There are a couple of enjoyable slapstick fight scenes, with the one in the casino showing off Cardinale’s rarely seen flair for physical comedy.

Both Vitti and Cardinale have certainly made better movies, but not many are as enjoyable as this, and both actresses are stunning throughout. Blonde Vitti looks great in her leathers, and at one point a scantily clad Claudia has a reel of spaghetti eaten off of her. A good dramatic actress, Cardinale is also very adept at comedy, which was also evident when she was paired with another icon; Brigitte Bardot, in the earlier bodice-busting romp ‘The Legend of Frenchie King’ (’71). Monica Vitti has had the more art-house career, appearing in Joseph Losey’s 1966 comic strip ‘Modesty Blaise’, and Michelangelo Antonioni’s famed trilogy; ‘L’Avventura’ (’60), ‘La Notte’ (’61) and L’Eclisse’(’62).

Director Carlo Di Palma was a cinematographer known mostly for his work with Michelangelo Antonioni, notably ‘Red Desert’ (’64) and ‘Blow Up’ (’66). Di Palma later moved to the US where he became a regular DP for Woody Allen. There is a nice jazzy score by ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ composer Riz Ortolani, which accompanies the comic moments perfectly.

In spite of its minimal plot, ‘Blonde in Black Leather’ is a feel-good ride and an endearing picture, featuring two very appealing lead performances. I think it’s a true one-off and a sleeper in need of a new audience. Oh, and Claudia Cardinale can certainly throw a mean punch!

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