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Yesterday, Today And Tomorrow
cast: Sophia Loren, Marcello Mastroianni, Agostino Salvietti, Lino Mattera, and Aldo Giuffre

director: Vittorio De Sica

Director: Vittorio De Sica 119 minutes (PG) 1963
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Eureka DVD Region 2 retail
[released 26 January]

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by James A. Stewart
When one of the most acclaimed exponents of neo-realism combines forces with two giants of Italian cinema the result should be spectacular and in Yesterday, Today And Tomorrow - or Leri, Oggi, Domani to give the film its Italian title - the outcome does not disappoint.

Celebrating its 45th anniversary in 2008, Yesterday, Today And Tomorrow is presented in three glorious vignettes featuring Italian screen legends Sophia Loren and Marcelo Mastroianni in vastly differing relationships. The first episode is based in Naples and is a quirky little number based loosely on true events in which Loren plays Adelina, a black marketer who avoids imprisonment by remaining pregnant. In 1950s' Italy there was a law whereby a pregnant woman could avoid jail for being with child, and if she fed the child herself she would get a further six months of freedom after the birth date. Of course, in order to remain free she needs Mastroianni to perform, but the factory next door and the ever growing family means he is deprived of the sleep needed to retain his mojo - eventually he runs out of steam and Loren runs out of excuses to avoid jail.

In the middle section, the shortest and possibly the poorest, Loren plays Anna, a materialistic money grabber who, suffering from the ennui of being a rich man's wife, plays the field. In this Milanese segment she is a bitch and her generosity stretches to allowing Renzo (Mastroianni, of course) to drive her new Rolls Royce. Inevitably he crashes the powerful machine but at least manages to avoid killing a poor flower seller in the process, much to Anna's chagrin and a point she ensures is forcibly made.

However, it is in the final episode that Yesterday, Today And Tomorrow really excels. Filmed out of Rome, Loren plays a sassy call girl who delights in exciting the trainee clergyman next door, and Mastroianni is superb as the frustrated Rusconi, who finds his repeated attempts at bedding Mara (Loren) thwarted by the prudish neighbour's inconvenient meddling. There are wonderfully shot comic moments abound in this episode and it also contains one of Loren's most famous scenes where she performs a striptease for the panting Rusconi, only for his reward to be pulled.

Each episode has an undercurrent of political or theological intrigue that reflects Italy in the period that this was made. Director Vittorio De Sica cleverly fuses these messages with humour to deliver a great movie which despite being in Italian loses none of its charm and mirth in translation. Loren and Mastroianni are superb throughout and are complimented by the beautiful locations in which the movie is shot, as well as De Sica's craftsmanship with the camera. Their roles are diverse to the extreme yet all played with great empathy and skill. Yesterday, Today And Tomorrow is a highly recommended picture for those seeking an introduction De Sica's work and neo-realist moviemaking.

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