Poor but Handsome / Poveri ma belli (1956)

3.5 out of 5

Dino Risi's feather-light Roman comedy follows the amorous adventures of two friends who, in the best tradition, are in love with the same girl. This is hardly surprising, as she in the shape of the glorious Marisa Allasio. While the plot holds few surprises, Risi makes good use of unfamiliar Roman locations, and the performances are uniformly excellent, especially from the two male leads Renato Salvatori and Maurizio Arena, who make potentially irritating characters engaging.

The real star, however, is the object of their affections Ms Allasio, the unwitting femme fatale. A truly mesmerising actress who, unfortunately, retired in 1958. An alternative title for this film is A Girl in a Bikini, and anyone who has watched it will know why.

Piero Piccioni and Giorgio Fabor contribute the evocative, if dated soundtrack, and the film ends in the only way it can.

Two sequels followed, both featuring Salvatori and Arena.

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