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September 25, 2012

Movie Review: Come Have Coffee With Us (aka Venga a Prendere Un Caffe Da Noi, 1970)

Directed by Alberto Lattuada

Movie Review By Greg Goodsell

In a 15-minute interview with film historian and Italian film expert Adriano Aprà, he informs us that Come Have Coffee With Us is effectively “an erotic film without eroticism.” He’s hit the nail right on the head there, as the film, a neither-the-sea-nor-the-sand comedy features the great Ugo Tognazzi (of the La Cage Aux Folles series) in the pursuit of three most unappetizing women.

Intent on marrying well, the middle-aged Tognazzi sets his sights on the wealthy if deeply unappealing Tarsilla sisters. Left very well off following the death of their wealthy biologist father, the sisters live in their gloomy mansion attended to by a maid. The eldest, Fortunata (Angela Goodwin) appears to be only in her forties, but seems much, much older and is dried up and virginal. Tarsilla (Francesca Romana Coluzzi), is a seven-foot-tall giantess with a mole above her lip; a librarian, she’s engaged in an active sex life with a luckless businessman also out to score some of the sister’s loot. Camilla (Milena Vukotic), the youngest sister, is naïve and gives new resonance to the term “mousey.”

Tognazzi begins to weasel his way into the gloomy household, and is met with success. Marrying Fortunata, he begins to lend his sexual prowess to the other two sisters, much to the disapproval of their surrounding coastal, deeply parochial Italian village. It doesn’t end well for Tognazzi, who by story’s end has the sister’s villa, their sensual attention albeit in a highly reduced state.

I couldn’t warm up to this comedy from the director of the far superior Raro DVD release The Overcoat. All of the characters are repellent, self-centered, the story is sexist (all these gals need is a good lay, the film argues), it’s slow and rarely if ever funny. It features beautiful, gushing photography camerawork by Lamberto Caimi (Il Posto) in the service of an intentionally ugly story. Released briefly in the United States as a sex comedy, I’m sure that many who caught this at the Drive-In at the time of its release found ample excuse to leave early.

The slight storyline, as has been pointed out elsewhere, has ties to Gothic horror, with the dotty father who dies of a heart attack before the opening credits end, being depicted as a Norman Bates-type, tending to his taxi-dermied specimens. There are allusions to Psycho and Marco Ferreri’s La Grand Bouffe as well. This reviewer just couldn’t warm up to this release, although Raro Video has done another bang-up job of bringing a heretofore obscure Italian film into the digital age. Your call! 

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