Teresa Venerdì (1941): De Sica’s Comedy, Starring Himself and Anna Magnani

Directed by Vittorio De Sica, before he made his landmark neo-realistic films after WWII, Teresa Venerdi unfolds as a comedy of errors.

Also an accomplished, Oscar-nominated actor, De Sica plays a good-natured but incompetent Dr. Pietro Vignali, deep in debts due to the shenanigans of by his girlfriend, Loletta Prima (played by Anna Magnani).

After his creditors threaten to sell his belongings, he takes a job as an health inspector at an orphanage to pay his debts, and gets engaged to the wealthy Lilli (Irasema Dilian), daughter of a mattress tycoon.

Things gets funnily complicated, when he is chased after by an orphan, Teresa Venerdì (Adriana Benetti), while trying to put his life in order.

End Note:

I have fond memories of seeing this film (and many others) at Boston’s Brattle moviehouse (on April 11, 1989), while teaching at Wellesley College.