THIS ARTICLE IS PART OF THE DYNAMIC DUOS IN CLASSIC FILM BLOGATHON
Marcello Mastroianni and Sophia Loren starred in over fifteen movies together, playing Italy’s most beloved on screen couple over and over again. But in 1963, under the direction of Vittorio de Sica, these two gigantic stars would play, for our delight, three different couples in one single movie: Ieri, Oggi, Domani (Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow). The first short story is about Adelina, a married woman deeply in debt, who discovers a way of not going to jail: to be pregnant. And so she is, over and over again, until her husband, Carmine, can’t do it anymore. Next, Loren is Anna, the wife of a rich businessman, who is having an affair with writer Renzo. And finally, she is Mara, a prostitute who captures the attention of a soon-to-be priest — a complication that will keep her current client, Augusto, desperate for her attention.
I can’t promise all these stories end nicely, but I can say that they’re all worthy of your undivided attention. Two are funny and warm, one is intense and intriguing; all of them creative and, despite being completely different, surprisingly smooth in transition. A good script goes a long way, but no doubt this is also due to the leads, Mastroianni and Loren. Being the it couple of the sixties and seventies (even outside their home country), their fiery chemistry should come as no surprise. But even though they exude sexuality when together, it is that italian simplicity, happiness and warmth that lures us in, wishing to be a part of it, to have it.
He could play a suave gentleman just as easily as an everyday guy. In Peccato che sia una Canaglia (Too Bad She’s Bad, 1955), Mastroianni even interprets a simple taxi driver, caught in the trap of the sneaky robber Lina. He would be deliciously funny and mysterious, shifting from predator to prey in a heartbeat. Speaking of heart — and without meaning to be cheesy — when his ache, yours would too. That’s talent. And she had plenty of it too: Loren was amazingly flexible in her roles, playing a wide range of characters; she would be serious, heartbreaking, determined and mature at any age, but the one thing that gets me every time is her sheer happiness, that gorgeous laugh, carefree movements, and radiant voice, even more so when singing a mellow tune.
Onscreen, they fight, scream at each other, kiss; they laugh, play together, and kiss again. During those scenes it’s as if nothing else matters, like they don’t have a care in the world. At times they were so naturally intimate that we almost felt embarrassed watching them — like we’re intruders in a private affair. No wonder audiences fell in love with both of them back then, and I believe we still can today.