Color, 1970, 98m.
Directed by Alberto Lattuada
Starring Ugo Tognazzi, Francesca Romana Coluzzi, Angela Goodwin, Milena Vukotic, Valentine
Raro (US R0 NTSC, Italy R0 PAL) / WS (1.66:1) (16:9)
When their taxidermist father dies of a heart attack in his greenhouse, charming Emerenziano (La Cage aux Folles' Tognazzi), a wounded veteran who lost most of his colleagues in Algiers, spies the perfect opportunity to close in on the man's three unmarried daughters. All of them are homely, of course, but the promise of wealth is enough for him to charm his way in. He proposes to the eldest, Fortunata (Autopsy's Goodwin), but continues to woo the other two, Tarsilla (Red Sonja's Coluzzi) and Camilla (Blood for Dracula's Vukotic). Other figures hanging around complicate the situation including Tarsilla's randy boyfriend and a nosy priest, but things really escalate when our anti-hero actually starts to fall for a cute blonde waitress (Valentine) who might upset all of his plans for good.
Despite its status as an Italian sex comedy, Come Have Coffee with Us is a much more twisted and bizarre affair than the premise might indicate. The opening scene is a beautifully orchestrated piece of gothic atmosphere, and several sebsequent scenes fulfill this promise as the story stampedes to an ending only slightly less grotesque than the following year's not dissimilar, more overtly horrific cousin, The Beguiled.
Tognazzi pretty much plays another variation on the perplexed but determined smoothie he already had down to a science, but the film upends the usual formula by lingering on women who, to put it mildly, aren't the usual stars of a sex comedy. The framing still lingers on their legs and lingerie-clad forms anyway, which results in a disorienting experience when Tognazzi finally does wind up meeting a more traditionally alluring young lady who spins the tale to its amusingly nasty finale. Along with the sumptuous camerawork by Lamberto Caimi (Il Posto) that makes several scenes look worthy of Mario Bava, the film also benefits from a terrific music score by Euro lounge legend and frequent sampling source Fred Bongusto. A soundtrack release for this one would be most welcome someday.
Raro's American DVD of this film marks its first commercial appearance since a fleeting American art house release in 1973 (with an incredibly ugly poster to boot). The image quality is excellent throughout and perfectly framed at 1.66:1, with beautiful saturated colors and wonderfully rich textures. It's really excellent eye candy throughout, and even if Italian comedies aren't your thing, this one might be worth a peek anyway thanks to its perverse, borderline macabre sensibilities. The original Italian mono track (which sounds very nice) is presented with optional English subtitles. A video interview with Adriano Apra does a solid job of giving some background on the film including the director's career status at the time, the reason his camera "cuts" the women into abstract forms, and the influence of La Grande Bouffe and Psycho. Apra also contributes a lengthy booklet essay about Lattuada including some fairly in-depth overviews of his key films, plus a rave review from the original 1970 release in Italy.