Io e Caterina (1980)

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Io e Caterina (1980)

“Catherine and I”
Cast
Rossano Brazzi
Edwige Fenech
Alberto Sordi, see Il passatore
Catherine Spaak
Valeria Valeri

Director
Alberto Sordi

Director of Photography
Sergio D’Offizi

Set Designer
Lorenzo Baraldi

Composer
Piero Piccioni

Writer
Rodolfo Sonego

Synopsis/Review
In Italian, without subtitles.

Rossano plays Arturo, a top executive of an American-based robotics company. Alberto Sordi plays a visiting executive from the same company, stationed in Italy. He visits the New York office to get a first hand look at the company’s newest and most exciting invention: the pinnacle of domestic robotics named “Caterina”. Rossano is his escort during the American visit. The company president, by the way, “Il Presidente” is a blonde, beautiful and stunningly bitchy woman whose entire performance consists of speaking like a Nazi general and silencing Rossano’s character with “Oh shut up, Arthur!” The problem with this scenario is that, whether due to his inate inner dignity, or due to our (the viewer’s) perception of his inate inner dignity, the relationship – such as it is – between Arturo and ‘Il Presidente’ seems so foreign to his nature as to be ludicrous … and perhaps that is why Sordi cast him in the role. The sight of a character played by Rossano Brazzi humbled and cringing is so uncomfortable, Sordi no doubt intended to suggest the unnatural position of an executive woman in a position of power over someone like Rossano Brazzi. If so, it worked. We cringed worse than he did (even if we do belong to that shrewish clique of American feminists who, to the writer’s way of thinking, infected all those poor, unsuspecting Italian women with our emasculating ways and forced the pens of trembling male screenwriters to sprout shrewish characters like weeds. Kinda makes a girl wanna bawl, ya know?)

Caterina, the robot, is truly a marvel: she cooks, she cleans, she vacumes, she serves drinks and she obeys each of her master’s commands with a “Si, Signore!” overlaid with delicate sexual overtones of obedience, submission and absolute mindless idiocy. Sordi, whose character has fallen victim to both a failed marriage and a failed affair with his secretary, brings his very own “Caterina” back to Italy — with some very funny consequences … it seems that ‘Il Presidente’ may have made ‘Caterina’ in a twisted variation of her own image! Of course, this film is being reviewed by a woman … a male reviewer might not have found this film — and those consequences – quite as amusing as I did. Being a woman, I rolled on the floor laughing.

But back to Rossano who (again) is listed in the credits as a “participazione di” … as much as we, the women of the “Third Generation of Rossano Brazzi Admirers” would like to get around it, he was born in 1916 and spent at least 50-60 years of his life in a world and society where women were expected to view their lot as a natural state … without ever having known the man, our guess is that the explosion of feminism when he was already in his 40’s and 50’s more than likely baffled and disturbed him … it had to have shaken the very foundation he was born and raised on … it was a difficult time for many men his age, and continues to be so.

This isn’t the first time one of his characters has complained rather heatedly that what he perceived as femininity has been lost to the growth of feminism, and his character in this film complains pointedly about the loss of femininity in American women in particular … a point of view with which we’re SURE he couldn’t possibly have agreed.


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