I don’t go to the movies. I have seen enough. I
have reached the age where you sit there
anticipating the action three scenes in advance
and the dialogue as well, sometimes word for word.
I have friends who could write better scripts and for
much less than $400,000 per.
Teenagers love movies and the reason is:
they are blissfully unaware the movie they
are watching has already been made--dozens of
times. The titles change, the actors change, the
clothes change but the story, with a few minor flip
flops scene-wise, remains the same. The writing
Naturally good films are always being made but the
question you must ask yourself is: how many
miserable clunkers am I prepared to suffer through,
and to fork over $9.50 a ticket, plus popcorn, in
order to bump into one movie worth seeing. Thats
So I resort to the re-watching of old films I have
seen before—my personal classics.
Ill start with Down and Dirty.
The action occurs in a slum outside Rome. Maybe
slum isn’t the word. Slum would be an upgrade. It’s
a collection of hovels banged together from rusted
sheets of siding and lumber scraps and drywall
discards, etc, accessed via a dirt road choked with
garbage. There are stray dogs and rats, etc. that’s
Inside one of the hovels is the Mazzatella family.
It’s a large hovel to shelter a large family--
the old man and his wife and 8 children and
another 10 or 15 grandchildren and a handful of
relatives who have installed themselves
permanently as guests.
The old man says: “Relatives are like fish. Keep
them for three days and they begin to stink”.
All these people live together in one room—a
large room but one room nevertheless. Here they
sleep, eat, break wind, curse and pummel one
another, beat their children and, need I say, to
relentlessly fornicate and if the partner is a blood
relative so much the better.
There are some women who think their opinion of
men can go no lower but they are wrong. They
haven’t met Signor Mazzatella. The old man is a
sociopath, or psychopath, or both, he also drinks,
the first glass going down at 5 am.
He gets up early because he must be ever vigilant to
foil any attempts at thievery—the stealing of his
money. This explains the shotgun he sleeps with to
secure the wad tucked away on his person--
insurance money from an accident.
Thats the story: the old man, the money, the
paranoia and the mayhem that occurs as a result.
There are some minor incidents and two major ones:
the stabbing of the wife and the pumping of a round
from the shotgun into the back of a nephew. Also
the cornering of a daughter-in-law in the toilet
where he threatens her with blackmail (witness to a
blowjob performed on a cousin) and she is obliged
to favor him with a quickie.
Etc, etc. You get the picture. Did I mention it’s a
The old man is a misery and the family serves to
verify the proverb about the apple that falls from the
tree but not too far. In the case of the
Mazzatella family it didn’t roll one time. The sons
fall into the small time criminal category--thieves,
purse snatchers and male hustlers and one of the
daughters has nailed down work posing for an
Italian version of Hustler mag.
The only decent one of the bunch is Angelina the
nurse who labors in a convalescent home where she
is implored from time to time by one of the residents
to administer a hand job—a 90 year old who is too
enfeebled to get out of bed but has a hard on around
Signor Mazzatella is played by Nino Manfredi and if
at this point in your life you still have doubts
about what it is an actor is supposed to
be doing up there Nino Manfredi can fill you in.
I will describe one scene to establish the general
tone and leave it for you to imagine the rest.
Giacinto (the old man) is wandering the
neighborhood, following a few days in jail due to the
shotgun incident and bumps into a hooker, also
wandering around in search of a score.
She’s on the large side, 300 lbs plus with legs like
tree stumps wearing a mini skirt and 9 lbs of hair,
etc, but as they say, tastes vary, he is hammered on
wine, becomes inflamed and they knock off a
quickie behind a dumpster.
Now he gets the bright idea of bringing the whore
home to meet the family.
The whore, not the sharpest knife in the drawer,
says: why not?
They return late with everyone asleep and into
bed he crawls, next to the wife and invites the
whore to crawl in beside.
The whore says: “wont she object?”.
But in she tumbles and now the wife stirs, cocks a
groggy eye, and says: Come va?
He introduces the whore, the wife opens both eyes
and they go back and forth for a bit and she starts to
grind him that earns for her a backhand to the
head. Up she leaps screaming, on go the lights and
the entire room erupts and joins in on the act, etc,
etc. At some point peace is restored with the wife
going off to sleep in a corner and things settle down
and the communal snore resumes.
But here is a son who dimly perceives this gigantic
ass a few feet off afloat in the murk and he crawls in
behind the whore and works himself into position.
She stirs, there is a little back and forth with
the son who reassures her that everything is cool
and this will take but a minute etc.
At some point the family decides they have had
enough, father or no, they must take action and
there is only one action to take which is to kill him.
They do their best—-via some rat poison dumped
into the pasta-—but he survives. He is a Hitler type—-
The movie ends as it began, with a young girl
trudging down the hill carrying pails and
buckets to draw water. She is 14 or maybe 13,
sweet and innocent. At least she was innocent at the
beginning of the movie. Now at the end she is less
so. We see her from behind, trudging down the hill
and now she turns for a profile shot and she is huge
with child. It’s a powerful image--not only because
of the implications of incest but the family in which
the incest occurs. This could be the most revolting
one yet--super signor Mazzatella.
Movies are funny in different ways. I like Woody
Allen but 5 minutes after seeing a woody Allen film I
forget it ever existed—like eating Chinese food. The
people don’t stick. They don’t have that power.
Down and Dirty is different. Here is a study of
people not at their worst but close enough and this
is the question that nags you while you watch the
film: do such people really exist? The answer is yes
and if this is so it poses another question: why am I
Thats Down and Dirty.
This page is for : book reviews, movie reviews, art reviews, food recipes, a good
joke etc, or anything else it occurs to write about of interest to myself or whoever
happens to stumble across the site. I welcome contributions from friends or
friends of friends or anyone who feels the need to send something along. The only
criteria is: make it worth reading. I refer you to the words of George Orwell: you
can write a book in a month but a decent sentence is the work of a lifetime
Down and Dirty (Brutti, Sporchi, e Cativi)
Starring Nino Manfredi
Directed by Ettore Scola