Lina Wertmüller Stanley Kauffmann - Essay

Stanley Kauffmann

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Lina Wertmüller has written and directed a tragic farce] in which the horrors are hung on a ludicrous plot. An Italian deserter, in a German prison that reeks with murder, uses his Neapolitan amatory wiles on the prison commandant—a woman built like a brewery horse—in order to save his life.

Can that be funny? Can it make us laugh when the Italian leers lecherously at the commandant as she stands in front of a hanging corpse, when he pulls that infamous prison cap down over one eye to make himself look dashing? The terrible answer is yes: because by this point in the picture farce has been interwoven with tragedy—we know we are in the hands of someone who uses farce to underscore the tragic,...

(The entire section is 521 words.)