While hiding from the royal authorities, Giacomo Casanova, the famous romancer, encounters his look-alike: Giacomino, a fugitive petty con man. Meanwhile, the Arabian Caliph and his wife are arriving in Venice for a state visit, and she insists on a night with the legendary lover. Through a series of erotic encounters and mistaken-identity comedies, Giacomo and Giacomino make their way back to Venice for their appointment with the Caliph's wife.
Probably won't be a favorite for Tony Curtis fans, but a pretty fun movie
I have watched (i.e. suffered through) any number of 1970's continental European sex comedies, and generally the best of that genre ("best" being a very relative term here) are the "period" comedies like this one about the famous Italian lover Casanova. This movie, though cheap by Hollywood standards, is relatively big-budget for a European sex comedy and features an actual bonafide star in Tony Curtis. Other reviewers may have found it "sad" to see an actor of Curtis' stature in a movie like this, but he looks like he was genuinely having a good time playing two different roles, and surrounded by some of the most sumptuous beauties in Europe at the time. In a way this kind of reminded of Richard Burton's version of "Bluebeard"--it's not a great movie by any means, but it's certainly lively and entertaining.
The infamous lover Giacomo Casanova (Tony Curtis) escapes from a prison along with another petty criminal, "Giacomino" (also Tony Curtis), who looks just like him. The conceit here is that while the legendary Casanova is a master at seducing women, he's not such a master at satisfying them after years in prison. However, "Giacomino", who naturally keeps getting mistaken for Casanova, is the opposite (even though he's far more interested in food than sex). This comes in handy when the beautiful wife (Marisa Berenson) of an elderly Middle Eastern caliph demands that Casanova satisfy her if her husband is to approve an "oil" deal (rose oil actually since this is supposedly the eighteenth century)and threatens to take his manhood if he fails to do so. In the meantime, both Casanova and his double fall into the clutches of various lustful, married noblewomen, played by the likes of Marisa Mell, Sylva Koscina and Britt Ekland, with usually sexy and occasionally funny results.
Naturally, there's a lot of female nudity here, not so much by the leads (with the notable exception of the then-fortysomething but very impressive Koscina), but by many of the supporting actresses including African-American actress Jeannie Bell as a nubian slave (nobody ever accused European exploitation filmmakers of political correctness),and Olivia Pascal and Katia Christian as some not-so-innocent novice nuns one of our heroes accidentally gets locked in a convent cell with. The mistaken-identity plot and bedroom farce comedy generally works pretty well with the exception of some"modern" jokes about "oil" shortages and American Express cards, which really date the movie far more than the 18th century setting. There's also a couple dumb gags referencing Curtis' most famous film "Some Like It Hot" (yes, at one point the faded Hollywood star does cross-dress). Even without the lame jokes though, this probably won't endear itself to serious Tony Curtis fans, but I thought it was OK.
One might think the life and legend of Casanova would have given the soft porn crazed 1970s European exploitation film industry ample opportunity to produce numerous films on that topic. However, there are surprisingly few. The reason is this film, partly producing the definitive version, and partly showing that the subject is not such a sure-fire winner after all.
The humour is very low brow, sometimes typically Italian, sometimes typically German, and in neither case of the kind that travels very well. Some attempts at inserting contemporary humour went disastrously wrong, because they drag the viewer's mind right out of the picture without being especially funny in the first place. There is also a distinct lack of coherence, the film and especially the acting is underdirected. Some members of the cast are guilty of extreme over-acting (e.g. Jacques Herlin, as usual), others play it much too straight (Marisa Mell). Tony Curtis is more like a spectator who just happens to wander into the picture most of the time. Still, some cast members do find the right tone for this sort of picture: Victor Spinetti, Sylva Koscina (with the most extensive topless scenes of her career) and Marisa Berenson.
But one can enjoy the film on the so-bad-it's good level, with so many faces well known to followers of 70s eurotrash constantly popping up and embarrassing themselves.
The heavily cut US versions (cable TV & video) should be avoided.
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