At which point, De Sica fell out of sync with ‘the Sixties’ and its sundry innovations. His next picture, The New World
(1966) barely saw release out of Europe; filmed in English, After the Fox
(1966) was a bland Peter Sellers comedy; Woman Times Seven
(1967) had Shirley MacLaine in seven middling stories about adultery; and A Place for Lovers
(1968), a picture made strictly for the money (in some stations, De Sica was more famous for his gambling debts than his films), offered an unconvincing romantic pair of Marcello and Faye Dunaway. Likewise, as a new dawn of filmmaking came into view, he fell out of favor with the critics. Bicycle Thieves
, once counted among the great all time classics, fell off of Sight & Sound
’s Top 10 Critics’ Poll
, where it held the #1 position in 1952 and #7 in 1962.
During this gray period — and before he’d reclaim prominence with The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (1970) — De Sica reunited Sophia and Marcello for Sunflower, an old fashioned romance using World War II as a backdrop. Sadly, it feels forced and routine, even though the performances and Giuseppe Rotunno’s cinematography are generally excellent; and Henry Mancini’s score (nominated for an Oscar) is pleasant, albeit repetitious. But the script is banal, its situations and characters not far removed from daytime soaps, an anemic work inexplicably credited to three writers, among them the brilliant Tonino Guerra, better known for Antonioni’s L’Avventura, La Notte (1961) and Blow-Up (1966), and Fellini’s Amarcord (1973).
A bonus included with the Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow Blu-ray and as part of the DVD set is the 90-minute documentary, Vittorio D. (2009). Directed by Mario Canale and Annarosa Morri, veterans of earlier documentaries on Marcello Mastroianni and Marco Ferreri, it gathers De Sica’s children, friends, coworkers in the Italian cinema and British and American admirers, including Paul Mazursky, Mike Leigh, Ken Loach, Woody Allen and Shirley MacLaine, who reminisce about his films as both director and actor, his home life, gambling and political beliefs. (A communist, De Sica believed in the ‘socialism of Jesus Christ.’) It also addresses De Sica’s legacy, of which John Landis, of all people, provides an accurate summation that’s particularly refreshing.
Order the Sophia Loren Blu-ray Bundle from Kino International
Order the Sophia Loren DVD Box Set from Kino International