(Sedotta e abbandonata)

Directed by Pietro Germi. 1964.

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When Agnese (Stefania Sandrelli), a fifteen-year old girl, is seduced and impregnated by her older sister's fiancé, the stage is set for a series of events that involve an attempted murder, an abortive suicide attempt, a protracted court battle, and a fake kidnapping. A wicked satire from Pietro Germi, Seduced and Abandoned lampoons the macho morality, legal system, and hypocrisy of Sicily in the early 1960s. Though it seems a bit overlong, it is a very funny film that shows how outmoded codes of honor can stifle individuality, and the consequences that result when a family's reputation becomes more important than their happiness. 

Saro Urzi won the award for Best Actor at the 1964 Cannes Film Festival and he turns in a dominating performance as Vincenzo Ascalone, the ebullient patriarch who is determined to preserve the family honor at any cost. After discovering that his young daughter Agnese has been seduced by Peppino Califano (Aldo Puglisi), daughter Mathilde's (Paola Biggio) fiancé, he goes into a rage, first against Agnese than against the cowardly Peppino, assaulting him in front of his parents. He demands that Peppino break off the engagement with Mathilde and marry Agnese, but Peppino hypocritically proclaims that he will not married a defiled woman though in fact he was the defiler. 

When Peppino hightails it out of town and hides in a monastery, Vincenzo persuades his son Antonio to hunt him down and kill him but the murder plot turns into another farce after Agnese informs the police (who are about as competent as the lawmen on The Dukes of Hazzard TV series). The bumpy affair finally ends up in court where the only thing that can prevent Peppino from jail is marriage but the proud papa refuses his daughter's hand. This forces Peppino to stage a false kidnapping and it goes on from there, full of twists and turns that left me a bit worn out but full of smiles. 


Howard Schumann
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