Vittorio De Sica Vincent Canby - Essay

Vincent Canby

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

In common with many other great men, Vittorio de Sica … had a chronic weakness that was as disorienting to him as a whiff of booze can be to the alcoholic. Mr. De Sica, the social critic ("The Bicycle Thief") with an immense talent for comedy as both an actor ("It Started in Naples") and as a director ("Marriage Italian-Style"), was from time to time subject to fits of teary sentimentality that upset his balance and completely dissolved his judgment.

As a sentimentalist Mr. De Sica never went on a bender by himself. He surrounded himself with friends, as if the making of these ponderously romantic movies were really occasions of great conviviality. Perhaps they were, though it never shows in the completed pictures….

That "The Voyage," which Mr. De Sica made the year before he died, is only now reaching us is not difficult to understand. The film … has the manner of something out of sync with itself and the world around it….

Nothing in the movie fits. The casting of two extremely English actors as Sicilian aristocrats need not have been ludicrous…. (p. 255)

The English-language screenplay … is chock full of the kind of lines you haven't heard since Andrew and Virginia Stone penned their screen version of "Song of Norway."

Some are funny … but most are simply out of touch with the feelings and emotions the movie should be dealing in. (p. 256)

Vincent Canby, "From Pirandello Novel," in The New York Times (© 1978 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), December 1, 1978 (and reprinted in The New York Times Film Reviews: 1977–1978, The New York Times Company & Arno Press, 1979, pp. 255-56).