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In Weimar Germany, twin brothers Hermann and Gustav find themselves on opposite extremes: Hermann is a loyal sympathizer of the emerging Nazi party and Gustav is an anarchist who prints and spreads anti-Nazi propaganda.
This movie is a failed attempt at kinky comedy. Agostino (Lino Toffolo) is an organ player who after a series of misfortunes loses his van, for him both transportation and home. By chance he meets Luca Maria (Culastrisce), an impoverished half-dotty aristocrat, played by Marcello Mastroianni and the only reason for seeing the film. The Marquis Luca Maria's villa, a splendid edifice in the Palladian style, recalls the elegance of 18th Century concerts and balls, and is used to recreate the same, with Asgostino at the organ and Luca at the cello in performances of Vivaldi concerti.
Luca is totally buried in that past and talks constantly to unseen women at his side when he is not "dancing" with them. Agostino becomes part of that game and fears that he may lose the villa, to an equally eccentric aunt, should he become declared mad as a hatter. Into all this mayhem comes Claudia Mori, whose natural greed is used by the two men to make her play the useful role of the marchesa and save the estates.
When she gets too greedy and obnoxious (she vandalistically paints over original Veronese frescos in the villa with plasticized red paint as part of a "redecorating" effort), they eliminate her by sending her off in a hot-air balloon.
This is the kind of madcap comedy that can only come across with the help of frothy direction and good ensemble playing, and a good screenplay. It doesn't have one. Instead the film is a mess, leaden and plodding when it should have been light, airy, and wistful. Toffolo is a boring actor. Mastroianni has very little to work with.
The movie was photographed gorgeously by Carlo Carlini, too gorgeously, with lush rich hues, whether in the canals of Venice or in the drawing room of the stunning villa that serves as the film's basic setting.
It was directed by Flavio Mogherini, who has fantasizes here about becoming a second Fellini. There is an evoked scene on a beach, complete with gothic organ console and a group of boys in seminarian cassocks running through à la "8½". It is something only Fellini could have brought off, not Mogherini, who throws the scene in arbitrarily. The movie is filled with similar hack droppings from the Fellini albatross. And that music by Detto Mariano! It is an irritating parody of Francis Lai, whom I never fond that great himself. The movie was released in America in an atrociously dubbed version retitled "Lovers and Lunatics."
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