Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (1964): Vittorio De Sica’s Oscar Winner, Starring Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni

Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, 1956-presemt

Year 9: Italian Comedy, Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

Of the many anthologies that came out of Italy in the 1960s (Boccacio 70, Marriage Italian Style) Vittorio De Sica’s Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow, which won the 1964 Best Foreign-Language Film Oscar, is perhaps the most successful and entertaining.

Grade: B+ (**** out of *****)

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow film poster.jpg

Original movie poster

 

This is in large part due to the individual sex appeal and charisma, and strong chemistry between it two stars, Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni, both at the peak of their careers.

In a change of pace, De Sica, better known for making seminal neo-realist dramas, such as the Oscar-winning “Shoeshine” (1946) and “The Bicycle Thieves” (1948), shows a light, easygoing touch in telling three slice-of-life of stories that while romantic and humorous still reflect the grimmer aspects of Italy’s social reality in the early 1960s.

In the first, “Adelina,” Sophia Loren lives a shabby life on the black market in Naples, before making the happy discovery that, according to Italian law, pregnant women cannot be sent to jail. As a result, she increases the pressure on her already tired hubby Mastroianni to keep her pregnant for the next seven years.

The second and weakest chapter, “Anna,” sees Loren as a rich woman who tells her young and poor artist-lover that all she cares about is love and passion and that money has no place in her life.

“Mara,” the most memorable of the trio, culminates in the famous steamy striptease that Loren performs for her client, Rusconi (and for us viewers). As the titular hooker, Loren tries to dissuade a young seminary student from giving up the church for such “mundane” pleasures as sex.

De Sica’s frequent collaborator, Cesare Zavattini, penned the second and third segments.

Production values are polished, courtesy of ace lenser Giuseppe Rotunno.

The film was made in 1963, but it qualified for Oscar considerations a year later.

The movie was hugely popular at the U.S. box-office, earning $4.1 million (in rentals) $9.3 million (in grosses).

Cast

Sophia Loren – Adelina Sbaratti / Anna Molteni / Mara
Marcello Mastroianni – Carmine Sbaratti / Renzo / Augusto Rusconi

Oscar Alert

The other nominees for the Best Foreign-Language Film Oscar were “Raven’s End” from Sweden, “Sallah” from Israel, “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” from France, and “Woman in the Dunes” from Japan.

Credits

Directed by Vittorio De Sica
Written by Bella Billa, Eduardo De Filippo, Alberto Moravia, Isabella Quarantotti, Cesare Zavattini
Produced by Carlo Ponti, Joseph E. Levine
Cinematography Giuseppe Rotunno
Edited by Adriana Novelli
Music by Armando Trovajoli
Distributed by Embassy Pictures Corporation

Release date: December 19, 1963

Running time: 118 minutes
Box office $4.1 million (rentals) $9.3 million

Detailed Plot

Adelina of Naples

Set in Naples circa 1953, Adelina (Loren) supports her unemployed husband Carmine (Mastroianni) and child by selling black market cigarettes. When she doesn’t pay a fine, her furniture is to be repossessed, but her neighbors help hiding the furniture. A lawyer advises Carmine that as the fine and furniture is in Adelina’s name, she will be imprisoned. However, Italian law states that women cannot be imprisoned when pregnant, or within six months after pregnancy. As a result, Adelina schemes to stay pregnant. After seven children, Carmine is exhausted and Adelina must choose between being impregnated by the mutual friend Pasquale (Aldo Giuffrè) or go to jail.

Anna of Milan

Anna (Loren) is married to a rich industrialist and has a lover named Renzo (Mastroianni). While driving in her husband’s Rolls-Royce, Anna must determine what’s most important, Renzo or the Rolls. Renzo rethinks his infatuation when Anna shows no feelings at a near accident involving a child.

Mara of Rome

Mara (Loren) works as a prostitute from her apartment, servicing upper class clients including Augusto (Mastroianni), the wealthy, powerful and neurotic son of a Bologna industrialist. Mara’s elderly neighbor’s grandson visiting them is a handsome and callow young man studying for the priesthood but not yet ordained who falls in love with Mara. To the dismay of his grandmother, the young man wishes to leave the clergy to be with Mara or to join the French Foreign Legion if Mara rejects him. Mara vows to set the young man on the right path, enlisting the reluctant Augusto while doing a striptease.