12 January 2018



This is a sassy, classy sexy anthology film starring producer Dino De Laurentiis's drop-dead gorgeous wife of the time, the actress Silvana Mangano. She found her way into the acting world after first achieving some success in beauty pageants and, Mamma Mia,she's beautiful beyond your wildest dreams. Actually, I think her delicately defined bone structure makes her look a lot like Ingrid Bergman, and that's certainly no insult. Bergman was something special. 'We'll always have Paris...!'

Mangano didn't become as phenomenally famous as her contemporaries, ladies like Sophia Loren and Gina Lollobrigida, but she still did all right for herself. Anyway, the film consists of five charming little vignettes each featuring Silvana in the role of a witch of some sort, but certainly not an ugly one with a warty nose and a broomstick. She's not that kind of witch at all, oh dear me, no.

Instead, she's more the bewitching kind of witchy woman, the kind that'll addle your brain and turn your head to mush with her dazzling beauty and her sizzling sex appeal. It's not a horror film at all, by the way, despite the misleading title. It's more of a sex comedy-drama with that distinctly Italian 'Sixties flavour to it that you can't mistake and will recognise immédiatèment. Well, that's French but you get the gist...

Silvana certainly turns heads, and not just male ones, when she plays a world-famous actress and model in the first segment, THE WITCH BURNED ALIVE, which is directed by Luchino Visconti. Gloria is a woman wanted by the whole world. The press and paparazzi don't leave her alone for a minute. Women want to look like her. Men want to f**k her. Well, I'm sorry but they do, she types primly and self-righteously...!

Gloria, clad in dark glasses, fur coat and a hat that nearly needs its own crane and fully-trained staff to get it onto and off of her head, arrives at a friend's Austrian chalet for the night, much to the excitement of the female guests and their bored spouses. The husbands have long given up sleeping with their wives but they'd give their right ball to be given the chance to ride Gloria. You can still ride with just one ball, can't you...?

There's a rape scene in this one but it's not the kind we're used to. Sorry, I didn't mean to sound blasé there about us all having seen a ton of rape scenes in movies but you know what I mean. It's not a man forcibly penetrating an unwilling female with his you-know-what, it's a whole crowd of men and women- led mostly by the women- denuding a drunk and unconscious Gloria of her beauty aids to reveal the real Gloria underneath the eye-slanters ('I knew her eyes couldn't be that beautiful!') and pins and bits of sticky tape.

It's as uncomfortable to watch as a regular rape scene, the disgusting and despicable 'undressing' of Gloria without her consent or even her knowledge. It's one in the eye for those catty bitches that the Gloria without her make-up is every bit as stunning as the Gloria without, so take that, you vile hags! No wonder your husbands prefer to sleep with prostitutes or their mistresses, lol. 

I see where the director was going with his title, by the way. Talk about a public crucifixion...! People can be such shits sometimes. They build you up only in order to tear you down, which is where they get their real kicks.

In Mauro Bolognini's CIVIC SENSE, Silvana plays a woman who does her 'civic duty' by an injured man but she has an ulterior motive and may not be helping him purely out of the goodness of her heart. What, a woman might possibly have a secret agenda? Never in this world, I say, Fred Elliott-style. Never in this world...!

In THE EARTH AS SEEN FROM THE MOON, directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini, a comic-looking father-son duo are searching for a willing woman to replace their deceased wife-and-mother. God help whoever ends up living with these two loonies, whose ridiculous appearance makes The Three Stooges look like stylish, sophisticated denizens of sartorial smartness.

Silvana Mangano plays a deaf-mute lady who, for some bizarre reason, doesn't find the
mad pair as repellent as she ought to and agrees to take on the role. She even agrees to go along with their madcap scheme to raise money but a pair of weirdo litterbugs may just put paid to that. 'To be dead or alive is the same thing,' by the way, did you know that?

In Franco Rossi's THE GIRL FROM SICILY, a beautiful young woman (Silvana Mangano, who else?) reveals to her furious Papa the name of the man who has attempted to dishonour her. He apparently didn't get too far in his attempts but that won't stop a murderous Papa from breaking out the old shotgun...

In AN EVENING LIKE THE OTHERS, Vittorio De Sica casts the divine Silvana as a bored housewife whose husband, played by a young and devastatingly handsome Clint Eastwood, has been failing to satisfy her in the bedroom for some time. It's a bit unbelievable. How could anyone be bored with Clint Eastwood, the smouldering star of PLAY MISTY FOR ME and so many fantastically dusty, lusty (not to mention busty) spaghetti Westerns?

Nonetheless, the spark has gone out of the marriage. There's a great scene in which we see how the couple's sex life has deteriorated over the years. What they need now is a bit of an old kick-start, but how should they go about it? She needs to dress him up in an old stinking poncho and kit him out with a toothpick and a ten-gallon hat, she does. Before long, he'll be dragging her off by the hair to the barn for a spot of how's-your-father and Bob's-Your-Uncle, capiche?

A frustrated Silvana fantasises about living her life as a beautiful star of the silver screen, a goddess worshipped by millions of men. Well, don't we all? A rich and active fantasy life is essential for maintaining good mental health in any marriage or relationship. As long as you don't call out the milkman's name when you're in bed with the hubby, it's all good. And, if your hubby is the milkman, well then, what are you complaining about? It's pints all round...

THE WITCHES is available to buy now on DVD and Blu-Ray from ARROW ACADEMY. Both the DVD and Blu-Ray versions have Special Edition contents.


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


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