La famiglia passaguai – The Passaguai Family (Aldo Fabrizi – 1951)

It’s funny sometimes when you watch a film that you like and then come across another one done couple of years later with same theme and even same actors. For those of you who follow my occasional cinematic thoughts, you’ll find this film very similar to Domenica d’agosto – Sunday in August (Luciano Emmer -1949), both represent typical movies of Commedia all’italiana genre of early 50’s-60’s.

You can watch the complete film below:

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The premise is the same the adventures of one family on a Roman Ostia beach. In this case, directed and starred by Aldo Fabrizi – one of Italy’s great actors known for his comic and dramatic roles (most notable Roma città aperta – Rome Open City – Roberto Rossellini – 1949).

The film starts with several comic scenes around the office of a vegetable company (you may say The Office Italian version) to stage the characters including one of my favorite Peppino De Filippo. Office workers make plans to get discount travel to the beach – each with own agenda.

Just as in Emmer’s film, here crowds, pushing and pulling also play key role in establishing the chaos environment to showcase the physical comedy, absurd, and even slapstick moments. I especially liked the boarding of the bus scene (00:25)

Passaguai1The family Passaguai on the beach, with the son guarding the watermelon

The plot weaves together wide range of trouble the family Passaguai (which ironically mean “trouble-passing) comes across, chief among which is the series of encounters with “the watermelon guy” played hilariously by Luigi Pavese. No matter what he does to protect his watermelon – a staple beach snack – every encounter with the family Passaguai results in a ruined watermelon.

Passaguai2Luigi Pavese as the “Watermelon Guy” with another determined pose before another watermelon accident

This film is part of a trilogy directed by Fabrizi including “La famiglia Passaguai fa fortuna” and later with “Papà diventa mamma” where the comic premise is based on replacing the roles of Aldo Fabrizi as the husband with those of his wife, played by Ave Ninchi.

In short, very light humor film that features another authentic testimonial of a Roman summer in early 50’s with loads of emotional extremes, miscommunications, and comedy of errors.

And yes, this film is also part of Italy’s top 100 cinematic heritage list.

By Shlomi Ron

Visual marketing guy with a penchant for fine Italian cinema.

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