Wednesday, March 6, 2019

The Great and Glorious Totò, Part 1 (1937 to 1949)

Totò in Fifa e arena (English title: Fear and Sand) (1948)
It is worthwhile for English-speaking comedy fans to break through language barriers and cultural barriers to find a way to one of the greatest film comedians of the twentieth century.  He was the son of a marquis, born Antonio de Curtis Gagliardi Griffo Focas Comneno.  He was known to his many fans simply as Totò.

Here is a list of select films from Totò's lengthy filmography.

Fermo con le mani! (English: Hands Off Me!) (1937)

Plot: A carefree Chaplinesque tramp moves from a job to job to support a Shirley Templesque orphan girl.  In one of the film's memorable scene, he gets a job as Mussolini's barber.


Animali pazzi (English title: Mad Animals) (1939) 

IMDb: "A baron [Totò] is obliged to marry his cousin within two days in order for him to get an inheritance.  If he doesn't marry, the inheritance will go to an animal clinic."

San Giovanni decollato (English title: Saint John, the Beheaded) (1940)

A shoemaker who maintains an altar for John the Baptist is committed to finding out who has been stealing the oil that keeps his candle to the saint burning.


Totò nella fossa dei leoni (English title: Two Hearts Among the Beasts) (1943) 


This clip does not have English subtitles, but Totò's vivid facial expressions and body language make the scene funny even to a person who doesn't understand the dialogue.

I due orfanelli (English title: The Two Orphans) (1947) 


Totò al giro d Italia (English title: Totò Tours Italy) (1948) 

 I pompieri di Viggiù (English title: The Firemen of Viggiù) (1949)


Yvonne la Nuit (English title: Yvonne of the Night) (1949) 

Totò cerca casa (English title: Totò Looks For a House) (1949) 

A poor clerk, Beniamino Lomacchio (Totò), is desperate to find a home during a severe housing shortage.  He agrees to take a job as a cemetery caretaker only because the job provides a home on the cemetery grounds.  But the new caretaker finds it far too scary to spend his first night amid the graves.


L'imperatore di Capri (English title: The Emperor of Capri) (1949) 

A gold digger mistakes a waiter for an Arab prince.  


The best parts of the film are Totò's interactions with his wife's bratty young brother.

Totò le mokò (1949)

IMDb: "The mobster Pep le Mok (Totò) dies during a shootout with the police.  His gang decide that his successor will be a relative of his from Naples: Antonio Lumaconi, a street musician."

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