The Overcoat

 

The Overcoat

[aka: Il Cappotto]

Written by Alberto Lattuada, Giorgio Prosperi & Giordano Corsi

Based on a short story by Nicholai Gogol

Cinematography: Mario Montuori

Production Design: Gianni Polidori

Editor: Eraldo Da Roma

Music: Felice Lattuada (the director’s father)

Produced by: Antonio Ansaldo-Patti & Enzo Curreli

Directed by Alberto Lattuada

1952

 

Cast:

Renato Rascel

Yvonne Sanson

Giulio Stival

Ettore Mattia

Giulio Cali

Antonella Lualdi

 

Production:

Theatrical: Faro Film

Video: Raro Video USA

Restored by The National Film Museum, Turin & Philip Morris Progetto Cinema

 

Video:

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Codec: MPEG-2

Bit Rate: Moderate (ca. 6 Mbps)

Runtime: 107 minutes

Chapters: 11

Region: 0 / NTSC

 

Audio

Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono

Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono

 

Subtitles

Optional English for the feature film

Optional English for the audio commentary

 

Extras:
• Audio Commentary by Film Historians Flavio de Bernardinis & Gabrielle Lucantonio

• Interview with Angelo Pasquini (13:20)

• 3 Extended Deleted Scenes (24:40)
• 20-page illustrated booklet with critical essays and photos

 

Presentation:

DVD clamshell case: DVD x 1

Release Date: January 17, 2012


 

Introduction

On January 17, 2012, Raro Video USA will release the second of two films by the classical Italian film director Alberto Lattuada (1914-2005): The Overcoat (Il Cappotto) from the early part of his career (1952).


           

 

The Movie: 9

The Overcoat (Il Cappotto) was nominated for the “Grand Prize of the Cannes Film Festival” - a not very shabby distinction - and won the Silver Ribbon by the Italian Film Journalists for its star Renato Rascel.  Lattuada himself won the Pietro Bianchi Award (an award given to eminent figures in the world of Italian film-making) in 1984’s Venice Film Festival.

 

The movie comes from a fine tradition of converting stories from other cultures into one’s own (e.g Gorky’s Lower Depths by Renoir and Kurosawa; Shakespeare’s King Lear and Macbeth also by Kurosawa; Gogol’s Inspector-General freely translated for Danny Kaye, and lately all manner of Asian films, anime and comic books into American movies.  Lattuada, with the help of his leading actor, Renato Rascel, the acutely discerning photography of Mario Montuori, and his father’s beautifully crafted music score has gifted us this piece of bittersweet pathos.


           

 

The New York Times said of Lattuada’s Il Cappotto in 1953:

This interesting Italian transposition of Gogol's semi-farcical tale of the little man who was briefly elevated to a sense of importance by the possession of a new overcoat is, in many respects, an exciting and impressive piece of cinematic art, directed by Alberto Lattuada with uncompromising insight and skill.

A little clerk, tired of being pushed and badgered, puts his savings in a new overcoat. In it, he feels triumphant. He can walk down the street like a lord. He is confident with beautiful women, whom he previously yearned for from afar. Then his overcoat is stolen. Inevitably, he goes mad and dies. Briefly, his spirit haunts the people who had been cruel and haughty to him. But the peculiar attractiveness of the film is in the sharpness with which it satirizes politicians and, indeed, society, and in the incisive humor of Rascel's Chaplinesque pantomime. . .  As in a Chaplin picture, [it] makes a haunting commentary. - Bosley Crowther


           

Image: 7/6

The restoration offers little improvement during the opening credit sequence, but after that, we find only minimal and relatively undistracting scratches and vague mottling.  Contrast is excellent, with rich black and plenty of detail, even in snowy landscapes. Note the horse’s breath as Carmine warms his hands in the opening sequence.  Sharpness is surprisingly good.  For no apparent, however, the image is occasionally cropped from the bottom or the top with a black border large enough to see if you’re looking out for it, though you might not notice it while absorbed in the drama.


           

 

Audio & Music: 6/9

The dialogue track is a little more convincing than some other Italian films of the 50s and 60s when overdubbing was the norm.  The actors actually seem like the ones whose voices we hear.  This goes a long way to verisimilitude and thus our emotional connection to their characters.  Like Frances Coppola decades later, Alberto Lattuada employs the talents of his father, Felice – how could you miss with such a name!  Felice’s music for Il Cappotto underscores the drama or comedy with just the right musical touch.


           

 

Extras: 8

The Bonus Features are headed by an excellent Audio Commentary with Italian film historians Flavio de Bernardinis and Gabrielle Lucantonio, who place the work of Alberto Lattuada in the context of Italian directors, and discuss his work in general; but mostly they focus on the movie itself, its derivation from Gogol, the politics of Italian society satirized in the film, and the actors.  Their commentary is subtitled; as expected, the movie’s Italian audio is maintained but is not subtitled when the commentary track is activated.


           

 

The thirteen-minute interview with Angelo Pasquini is presented in non-anamorphic widescreen and color, and includes extensive footage from the unrestored print. Next is a peculiar entry: 3 Extended Deleted Scenes – peculiar in that there is no audio, at least not when accessed via VLC on my computer. Raro caps off the bonus items with a 20-page illustrated booklet containing pertinent critical essays and photos.


           

 

Recommendation: 9

Alberto Lattuada’s The Overcoat [Il Cappotto] and Come Have Coffee With Us [Venga a prendere il caffè da noi] (released by Raro Video this past December 6) are warmly recommended.  Both are enjoyable films with different approaches to comedy/satire, so there should be no fear that you might be duplicating your effort and time.  Clearly Il Cappotto is the more “classical” film and has more in common with the traditions of silent film making, being more metaphorical and less explicit.  But then the movie is about respect, not sex. In some ways I was reminded of De Sica’s masterpiece Umberto D. in its portrayal of the underclass and its lingering shots of faces – and Jean Renoir’s Lower Depths (without the pain).  Il Cappotto is now 60 years old (as is Umberto D.) and, given that film preservation was not a priority in Italy in those days, the movie looks pretty good.


           


  

Leonard Norwitz

© LensViews

December 31, 2011



           



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