Mondo Cane (1962)


Mondo Cane (1962)

This isn’t a typical film, it’s the original schockumentary. Directed by Gualtiero Jacopetti and narrated by Stefano Sibaldi, Rossano’s segment in it lasts for about a minute. If nothing else “Mondo Cane” suggests a man who had a deliciously screwball sense of humor and probably laughed at himself a lot.

Basically, what he did for this is willingly re-enact a reported real-life experience of being mobbed by an overly affectionate crowd of female fans who (if reports are correct) absconded with either some or all of his clothes. To be honest, we’re not sure what the real experience was … nevertheless, the director of “Mondo Cane” used the episode as an indication of the weirdness of human mating behavior.

In fact, his episode is immediately preceded by one on the sex appeal of Rudolph Valentino and then followed immediately afterwards by footage of native New Guinean women chasing the object of their affections through the tropical forests of New Guinea, finally tackling him behind some well-placed shrubbery. Hmm. From Rudolph Valentino to Rossano Brazzi to the mating habits of New Guinean natives … we THINK the point is either (a) American women really have a thing for Italian men, (b) Rossano Brazzi should avoid office buildings, or (c) throughout the world, human beings have a biological urge to reproduce with the best and the brightest and the most sexually appealing of their species. (Heck, any teenager going through puberty could have told you that!!)

You’ve probably seen a lot of rip-offs of “Mondo Cane” (in fact, any documentary or shockumentary’ with the word “Mondo” in the title falls into that category), but Rossano’s “Mondo Cane” was the first, and was so hugely successful (as well as controversial), that it even spawned a top 40 hit song — every time you hear, “More than the greatest love the world has known, this is the love I give to you alone”, you’re hearing the soundtrack from “Mondo Cane”. Did you watch the recent “Beatles Anthology” on ABC? The film footage of drunken patrons staggering out of a seedy Hamberg, Germany beer hall was purloined from “Mondo Cane”.

We see him, as handsome as ever, striding purposefully into an American office building (we have no idea where – probably either New York or Los Angeles), sitting down, opening a magazine – and being set upon by a mob of screaming women who suddenly appear from elevators, offices, stairwells, etc. In the ensuing melee, he loses his jacket, his shirt, a few chest hairs, nearly loses his medallions and finally escapes by threatening to employ a dramatic karate chop on the crowd.

All of which raises the inevitable question which we doubt even Rossano could have answered: [“PING!”] [“Owwwww!!”] — whatever does one do with a souvenir chest hair? No, seriously, what do you DO with it? Frame it? Show it off to your friends? Put it under a microscope and say, “Oooh, what a cute little follicle!”? Sell it to chest hair collectors for big bucks? Extract his DNA from the follicle and clone him, like in Jurassic Park? (Ooooh, now there’s an interesting idea …) The rest of the film is no longer as shocking as it once was — in fact, after Rossano’s segment, it tends to get stultifyingly boring, actually. Still, his segment, however, brief, is fun to watch. And he looks like he really had fun doing it.

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