Monday, January 20, 2020

By the Gods!

Gianni Agus, Totò and Moira Orfei in TOTO & CLEOPATRA (1963)

How to review a Totò movie?

It's one of those dilemmas of the genre. I like his films but they're are difficult to give a good assessment. His PEPLUM films are only available in Italian (for now). Unless you know Italian, you'll have to read subtitles to watch his movies. And since the animated Totò talks nonstop, the subtitles are never-ending. You spend more time reading the machine-gun delivery of the dialogue than watch the movie. Things are made more complicated because there are subtle (or not subtle) differences between the dialogue and the subs which hamper the meaning of many jokes or situations, many of which are play with words. Some scenes have no subtitles apparently because the jokes were impossible to translate.

Like many genre comedies, Totò plays a dual role: Marc Antony and an unscrupulous slave trader who happens to look exactly like Mark Antony. That's because they're brothers. The plot or story is secondary to the humour.

Some compare this to CARRY ON CLEO (1964), which was made and release a year after this production. There are some similarities but not that many. CLEO is funnier but it's more like a cartoon while this one, even with cartoonish Totò, is played more straight.

The movie includes scenes from other productions as a cost cutting measure. In one scene, with the fake Mark Antony addressing the people of Rome cheering him on, we see a crowd scene taken from THE SWORD & THE CROSS (1958), which is set in Israel. That Roman crowd doesn't look very Roman.

In the movie, Totò is surrounded by many beautiful women, with Moira being the most beautiful. She was a statuesque woman! Totò's voice was not dubbed but Moira's voice was, or seems to be.


Scott Ochiltree said...

Thanks for your most interesting article.

I will watch this movie tonight on Amazon Prime.

I actually prefer subtitles to dubbing, but only when the subtitles are accurate.

Automatically generated subtitles generally contain many errors.

Anonymous said...

Toto contro Maciste is set in Ancient Egypt and it has lots of footage from The Pharaohs' Woman.

Tim Mayer said...

Explains why the Pasolini's Toto segment in "The Witches" is almost impossible to understand, even with English subtitles.