Ths review is written primarily by an associate who has served as a guide to all things Jewish, such as ceremonies and prayers for the blog A Ball for Genia. Here is his reaction to the movie—
I’d never seen Lina Wertmuller’s movie Seven Beauties although, as a Jew, I’ve tried to see all movies, documentaries, docudramas and fictions relating even remotely to the Holocaust. Seeing Seven Beauties now, at a considerable distance from World War II, still evokes emotions relating to the horrors of that time. Early in the movie, it becomes obvious that the nominations of Lina Wertmüller as Best Director, Giancarlo Giannini as Best actor, and the movie as Best Foreign Film, are justified.
The star of Seven beauties is Giancarlo Giannini, who brilliantly plays Pasqualino Frafuso. Because of Pasqualino’s reputation as a seducer (and perhaps a pimp), he gains the title the name Pasqualino Settebellezze (Pasqualino Seven Beauties), which implies that he is irresistible to women. (He confesses he doesn’t know why because he thinks himself pretty ugly.)
He is caught, of course, but convinces a trial court that he is insane. While in an asylum and serving as an orderly, he rapes a female patient who is bound to a bed. To get rid of him, the asylum keepers force him into the Italian army. Apparently he deserts the army with a friend, wanders around in a forest, steals food, and is caught by German soldiers, who put the two into a concentration camp. Conditions in the camp are so awful that he decides he will do anything to survive.
He decides to seduce the camp commander, who is a formidable woman who must weigh at least 350 pounds, and who deals out death to the prisoners every day. He hopes he can do it—his survival depends on it. His mother told him that every woman has a bit of sweetness in her and perhaps this one does.
But he does survive the concentration camp and the war, and returns to his village to the triumphant acclaim of his sisters, who are now very happy in the company of numerous American soldiers and sailors. But Pasqualino Settebelleze is a changed man, much chastened, and no longer the flippant lothario—
Pasqualino chastened He proposes marriage to a local beauty, and vows to have children—many children. . . and even hundreds of children!
The primary members of the cast of Seven Beauties are:
Giancarlo Giannini as Pasqualino Frafuso, aka Settebellezze
Fernando Rey as Pedro, the Anarchist Prisoner
Shirley Stoler as The Prison Camp Commandant
Elena Fiore as Concettina (a sister)
Piero Di Iorio as Francesco (Pasqualino's comrade)
Enzo Vitale as Don Raffaele
The indispensable Wikipedia offers an excellent summary of the life and work of Lina Wertmüller. The movie Seven Beauties is available from your local DVD store, and from Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.
EPISODE THIRTEEN will be published on Monday, April 8. There we will find our little group of refugees huddled in the house of Herr Wachter as the bombs fall around them. An Episode Fourteen is planned, but will be cancelled, of course, if the refugees do not survive the bombing. So, watch for Episode Thirteen, which will appear a week from this Monday!