The Film (4/5)
The aristocratic brothers, Neri and Gabriello Chiaramantesi, callously rule the cobblestone streets of Florence. The brothers' favor a specific target to continuously terrorize and that is none other than their innocent and harmless peer Giannetto Malespini. The passive Giannetto usually succumbs to the Chiaramantesi brothers' whims and becomes many a time the victim of their cruel jokes until Giannetto's lover the lovely Ginevra becomes involved in their game. The beautiful Ginevra was forced from the hands of Giannetto and dragged into the brothers' malice intentions, becoming a mistress to Neri Chiaramantesi. Nothing but revenge is on the mind of Giannetto and with the help of another highly powerful aristocrat, Giannetto sets up a supper and invokes peace by inviting the brothers to attend, but this only sets up Giannetto's vengeful game that will end in blood and lunacy
Certainly being a masterpiece of Italian cinema history, the 1942 in wartime constructed film "The Jester's Supper" contains a series of plentiful melodramatic twists that were far advanced in the midsts of the film's era and elevating it to a whole new level with the underlying of fierce sexual undertones and also with the film being one of the first in Italian film history to display nudity on screen. Ginevra played by actress Clara Calamai, most notably from Daria Argento's "Deep Red," briefly, yet clearly, becomes exposed in a terribly vicious manner for such a conservative decade with her dress being ripped away from her bosom, a clear symbolic sign of rape, by Neri Chiaramantesi.¬ Ginevra becomes the affectionate with numerous men and, to the contrary, loves the attention she receives from both Neri and Gianetto to where Ginevra nearly plays both sides of the fence, but still not labeled as a femme fatale and rather conveys being a power-lusting provocative woman.
Director Alessandro Blasetti was known as the "father of Italian cinema" from his leading role of putting life and wealth into a stagnant film industry. "The Jester's Supper," or "Le cena deffe beffe," is a play adapted film that favors much of a Shakesperean plot line and Blasetti goes against the grain by casting Italian action star Amedeo Nazzari as the boorish Neri Chiaramantesi, breaking away briefly from his on screen hero persona and revealing his clean shaven face from a usually mustached upper lip. While much of the film is about Giannetto's revenge toward the Chiaramantesi brothers, Amedeo steals the show. HIs character Neri is tricked at the supper into wearing battle armor and wielding a mace throughout Florence as a sign of defiance against Giannetto's wit, but ends up being declared as insane.¬ Amedeo's portrayal of arrogance is solidly splayed through the film and eventually becoming his downfall at the finale and while the Italian hero actor is known for his action star qualities, Amedeo surely can act loutish, horrified, and crazy - all attributes heros are not.
Blasetti's directing style involves many shadows giving off the perception that the characters in "The Jester's Supper" are ruthless and conniving even if they're the town fool. The film feels like the play with elaborate, and almost claustrophobic, sets and detailed costuming for the time period. Blasetti's film comes at a time of pre-Neorealism which was more prominent in the post-WWII era.¬ The flourishing of aristocrats from all societies are certainly displayed here in "The Jester's Supper." Every character is fairly wealthy and hardly any, if any, poverty is conveyed. Again, "The Jester Supper" is a stage play, but the film has it's director influences as well and doesn't necessarily express all of Sam Benelli's penned play.
One 7 Movies presents a black and white full screen 1.33:1 aspect ratio presentation and attempts to preserve much of the original print as possible.¬ The original print suffers from some damage of over exposed film stock on specific scenes and complete with the customary scratches and graininess of 8mm film. The serious oversight was with the DVD back cover labeling the film as a color presentation, but the Blasetti's film is in black and white with no color option available, making the back cover a bit misleading and confusing.
The 2.0 mix comes off as good as it will get with a film from 1942, producing slight static discharge with every scene and regular popping sounds every so often. The Giuseppe Becce orchestrated score emits magnificently through the duel channel and is remarkably well-timed with the scenes. Some of the Italian dialogue doesn't quite sync up with the actor's mouths, but there are English subtitles available to follow the storyline.
Only a still gallery of certain film scenes is available.
"The Jester Supper" is a historical, ground-breaking melodramtic-comedy film in Italian cinema culture. The Blasetti film defies the conventions with on screen nudity and archetype actors before the era of Neorealism. Personally, I had fun watching the cat-and-mouse game between Giannetto and Neri and also appreciating the sinister-inducing acting style of Amedeo Nazzari. I would recommend to anyone, especially students in the film studies category.