Plot: What’s it about?
Nino Badalamenti (Alberto Sordi) is a busy man, but the love for his family and his homeland have prompted him to take a vacation. He works long hours and is a dedicated employee, but he needs a break, so he, his wife, and his daughters trek to Sicily, where he is from. His parents had never even met his wife or children, so this trip was beyond overdue. He also missed his homeland, a place he holds dear to his heart, but hadn’t seen in some time. While in town, Nino pays a visit to local mafia head Don Vincenzo (Ugo Attanasio), who appreciates how respected and well liked Nino is. The Don even steps in to lend a hand when a landowner goes back on the price he quoted Nino. In return for his favor in the matter, Vincenzo asks that Nino be available should the favor need to be repaid, to which Nino agrees. But will he regret doing so and when the Don calls in that favor, what will Nino find himself in the middle of?
The Criterion Collection is loaded with great movies, from well known classics to more obscure gems. But in the case of Mafioso, the inclusion in the collection left me baffled. I know not every film will connect with every viewer, but I found Mafioso to be quite mediocre. An unusual take on the mafia to be sure, with more of a comedic approach without turning to farce, but an uneven result that doesn’t click. The movie relies mostly on light, sometimes a touch dark humor, then shifts gears into sudden drama toward the conclusion. I don’t mind such an approach, but here is seems forced and ill prepared. So what was a middling movie to that point, now seems like even lesser of an experience. I wanted to like Mafioso, the concept has potential, but the material just never worked for me. But I am just one person, so if you’re interested, by all means give Mafioso a look, but don’t expect to find a minor masterpiece by any means.
Video: How does it look?
Mafioso is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. I wouldn’t say this is a pristine, reference level treatment, but it is a more than solid effort. The print looks very clean, with minimal debris and other problems, so the image is allowed to shine and that it does. The black & white looks great and shows more sharpness than expected, which is always good news. Another good looking transfer from Criterion, who know how to handle these wonderful pictures.
Audio: How does it sound?
There just isn’t much to discuss here, as the included Italian mono option is good, but won’t turn any heads, of course. This is a dialogue driven movie and that means mono is more than adequate, no real problems seem to surface here. I heard little hiss or distortion of any kind, which is good news with a flick of this age, to be sure. No errors in terms of dialogue either, which is crucial and all, since this is a movie dominated by dialogue, to be sure. Not much else to report to be honest, although optional English subtitles were also included.
Supplements: What are the extras?
In this area we have a sixteen minute segment from an interview with the director, new interviews with the director’s son and wife, some promotional caricatures, and two of the film’s theatrical trailers.