Starring Jack Lemmon, Juliet Mills, Clive Revill, Edward Andrews, Gianfranco Barra, Giacomo Rizzo
Long. Charming. Romantic.
Carlo Carlucci: Here, we take our time. We cook our pasta, we sprinkle our Parmigiano, we drink our wine, we make our love…
Wendell Armbruster: What do you do in the evening?
Carlo Carlucci: In the evening, we go home to our wives.
Wendell Armbruster (Lemmon) is as stiff and tightly wound as can be; an American in Italy, not for pleasure but for business of a sort. His father died while on his annual “therapeutic trip” to Italy and Wendell is charged with bringing the body back to Baltimore for the funeral. Wendell finds out that his father was actually, once a year, shacked up with his mistress at the local hotel run by the worldly Carlo Carlucci (Revill). While struggling to get his father back home in time, Wendell meets and slowly falls for Pamela (Mills), the sweet but insecure daughter of his father’s mistress. Life is complicated but Billy Wilder makes it seem worth it. He’s obviously one of the best and he can make the messiest of scenarios charming and sometimes funny. Avanti!, however, is not a wild romp or as comedy-driven as you might expect based on its poster. This is more often a serious romance with bouts of humor and wit. Lemmon and Mills are fantastic. Mills, in particular, is very sweet, and Revill, whom I learn is actually from New Zealand, is convincing and charming as the Italian hotel manager. Avanti! may be too long but I personally don’t think so. I don’t mind long films so long as they’re not boring. Avanti! isn’t boring. It slowly becomes one of the great romances.
-Walter Tyrone Howard-