• Most Beautiful Wife, The




    Released by: No Shame Films
    Released on: 10/31/2006
    Director: Damiano Damiani

    Cast: Ornella Muti, Alessio Orano, Tano Cimarosa, Pierluigi Aprà, Joe Sentieri, Enzo Andronico, Fortunato Arena, Sandro Arlotta
    Year: 1970
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    The Movie:

    Fourteen year old Francesca (Ornella Muti of Flash Gordon and Umberto Lenzi’s Dirty Pictures) lives a quiet and humble life and while she doesn’t have much in the way of wealth or material possessions, things could be a lot worse for her. Unfortunately, ‘worse’ is exactly what happens when a man named Vito (Alessio Orano from The Killer Must Kill Again), who has been obsessing over her for a while now, snaps and forces himself on her. While normally this would land Vito in prison, his uncle just happens to be one of the most powerful mafia bosses in the area and so when Francesca goes to the police as most women would do in her shoes, she finds that they’re unwilling to help her. Even her own family members turn a blind eye to what she has been subjected to for fear of being taken down by the mobsters who have Vito’s back.

    Francesca is frustrated and understandably so as not one person in town will back up her story resulting in the cops just letting Vito walk and soon enough, Vito finds himself the man in charge when his uncle and some of his mafia generals are put away. To make matter worse, since she went against tradition and actually reported what happened to the police, her a lowly peasant girl and her victimizer a well to do socialite, the town has more or less blacklisted her. Eventually, one man who opposes Vito steps forward and gives Francesca a chance at getting revenge but the cost is high, possibly more than she’s willing to pay.

    An interesting film that mixes up crime, drama and human interest The Most Beautiful Wife really centers around its female lead, Ornella Muti. Not only is she completely gorgeous in this film but her performance is excellent as well making her the perfect choice for the part. We can see quite easily why Vito obsesses over her and while that hardly forgives his reprehensible actions the audience is at least able to understand why he wants her so much. Alessio Orano is also quite good as Vito, playing the role of the rather reprehensible spoiled brat quite well. We know he’s been raised in and around the mob so it makes sense that he’s turned out the way he has but he’s still a dirtbag and Orano’s performance ensures that this is never too far from our minds.

    Damiano Damiani’s direction is strong and the pacing is pretty tight. While he seemed to have made a career out of making more politically tinged thrillers such as How To Kill A Judge or socialist leaning westerns like A Bullet For The General his work could sometimes come close to but not quite hit the mark. Here, he nails it dead on in terms of what he’s saying and how he is saying it, proving that when done well politics and entertainment can make for good bedfellows. The film is as much a critique of the permissiveness of the ‘system’ as it is anything else but what makes it work is that you’re not necessarily concious of that fact until it’s over with. We’re not beat over the head with his message, instead we’re left to think things over for ourselves.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    No Shame’s anamorphic 2.35.1 widescreen transfer looks pretty sharp on this release. There is some mild shimmering in some spots as well as a fair bit of grain present but for the most part the image is clean enough with nice color reproduction. Aliasing never gets out of hand and neither do compression artifacts. The image is pretty stable and while there is the odd instance of print damage here and there, overall it’s obvious that some care has been put into the presentation and The Most Beautiful Wife really does look pretty nice on this DVD.

    Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono tracks are provided in both English and Italian, with optional subtitles provided in English. The Italian track sounds noticeably a little better than the English track does, though both are pretty decent. The levels are well balanced throughout and there aren’t any problems with hiss or distortion. Ennio Morricone’s score sounds quite good here and it comes through nicely without overpowering the performers.

    The main supplement on this release is a forty-five minute long documentary entitled Sicily, Ornella, The Mafia and Beyond which interviews many of the key people involved with making this film (save for, unfortunately, Morricone and Ornella Muti herself, which is a shame) with a lot of emphasis give to Damiano Damiani himself. There are some interesting stories in here about some of the troubles that plagued the production and everyone seems to have come away with a fairly distinct impression of the enigmatic Ms. Muti as there are plenty of stories about her in here. The interviews are spruced up a bit with some clips and photographs and it’s a very well put together piece that covers not only the director and the star but also the editing and cinematography and location shooting as well.

    Rounding out the extra features on the disc is the original Italian theatrical trailer for the film with optional English subtitles, a brief video introduction to the film from Damiano Damiani, menus, an audio set up menu and chapter selection for the main feature. Inside the keepcase is an insert booklet containing some liner notes which explain the history of the film as well as biographies for Damiani and Muti.

    The Final Word:

    A dark and tense thriller with plenty of great drama and a fantastic lead performance from the completely enchanting Ornella Muti, The Most Beautiful Wife receives an excellent DVD debut from No Shame with great video, decent audio, and some excellent extra features.