Wednesday, March 10, 2010
ANNA, THE PLEASURE, THE TORMENT - review
I was very pleasantly surprised by ANNA, THE PLEASURE, THE TORMENT (Italian title: ANNA, QUEL PARTICOLARE PIACERE). This 1973 film was completely unknown to me, as I never saw the NoShame DVD, released in 2005 under the title SECRETS OF A CALL GIRL, or the film in a bootleg version, nor did I read up on the film before watching it. Very naively, I expected a sexy, lighthearted comedy, with perhaps some elements of a drama thrown in. Boy, was I wrong!
Edwige Fenech plays Anna Lovisi, a cashier at a coffee shop who leads a stifling lower-middle class life, lacking a boyfriend and living at home with unpleasant, dissipated parents. Enter Guido Salva (Corrado Pani), a charismatic tough-guy hood who captivates and seduces Anna to become his girlfriend. As the relationship develops and Guido attains, rather easily, Anna's heart and soul, Guido reveals himself to be more and more a son-of-a-bitch in regards to her, first using her in a drug smuggling operation, then, with aggressive doses of intimidation and physical violence, compelling her to begin a debilitating life as a high-class prostitute. The process involves an eye-opening descent into the world of vice that hides behind gambling and dance clubs and exquisite hotels and mansions, a world that destroys the moral foundations of a human being, be it man or woman, the abuser or the abused.
In case you are unfamiliar with the film, I won't give away the plot details which transpire once Anna becomes a whore, nor will I say anything about presence of Dr. Lorenzo Viotto (played with likable and gentle cadences by John Richardson), but know that the ending is particularly emotional, though some hardened souls may deem it too sentimental and weepy.
Another surprise is that this compelling and emotionally charged drama comes from director Guiliano Carnimeo, known for Sartana spaghetti westerns and such low-brow exploitations as EXTERMINATORS IN THE YEAR 3000 (1983) and THE RAT MAN (1988). Good to see the names of euro-cult stalwarts Ernesto Gastaldi and Luciano Martino in the writing credits; the film has to be considered another high mark in their careers.
For this release, Mya used the earlier NoShame release, while leaving out the featurette "Memories of a Call Girl" that contained interviews with director Giuliano Carnimeo, star Edwige Fenech and writer Ernesto Gastaldi. The NoShame liner notes booklet is also not around. A trailer and poster/still gallery from the NoShame edition has been retained.
Picture quality is one of the best from Mya, and the 2.35:1 aspect ratio impresses with its well-crafted use by cinematographer Marcello Masciocchi.
Given the picture quality and the content of this film, there's no question that ANNA, THE PLEASURE, THE TORMENT is one of the best releases yet from Mya.
The Mya DVD is available on Amazon.com, as is the earlier, now out-of-print NoShame release.
Posted by Mirek at 4:23 PM