Maniacs, The / I maniaci (1964)

3.5 out of 5

A natural and gifted comic director, Lucio Fulci, brings here a series of short sketches that are both studies of character types and observations upon the prevailing social and political mood of the time. While there are plenty of actual laugh out loud moments it is more a film of a subtle comedy as the absurdity of a situation or set up becomes evident, sometimes with that little twist that turns what is perceived upside down.

A tiptoe through the twentieth century sees two men lamenting Italy of old as they discuss the failings of the Aldo Moro government only to see a similar discussion under the regime of Il duce as two soldiers question whether they are fighting on the right side when prisoners of war were receiving chocolate from Americans. A hitchhiking segment deals with prejudice and mutual mistrust as a poor southerner travels with a rich northerner and greed, caprice, villainy, cuckoldry and pride taken to it's stubborn conclusion all get a look in as skit after skit are rolled out in quick succession.

An antique buying trip to a monastery is inspired in both execution and conclusion and the whole affair is brought to a close with a final burst of madcap farce and slapstick from a mugging and gurning Franco Franchi along with his more po-faced partner in crime Ciccio Ingrassia. Recommended.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics