Il magnifico cornuto – The Magnificent Cuckold (Antonio Pietrangeli – 1964)
The husband, Andrea Artusi, played by Ugo Tognazzi is the owner of a hat factory. He has a beautiful young wife, Maria Grazia, casted with Claudia Cardinale at her best. The couple is surrounded with bored and rich friends like them, who constantly talk about adultery (L’adulterio) as if it was the local sport.
Andrea who is very loyal to Maria Grazia decides to test the waters and finds out how easy it is to have a love affair. It’s funny to see the detailed instructions his lover leaves for him to coordinate their private meeting in a nearby hotel.
You would think that would keep Andrea busy for a while, but he quickly gets bored with this clandestine relationship and turns the situation on its head. If it’s that easy to have an outside marital relationship for him, what about his gorgeous wife Maria Grazia? From here things start to snowball downwards as Andrea becomes super jealous of his wife. He spies on her using a special phone device, camps out in his backyard armed with goggles, have an employee following her, and others tactics.
I like the film because through a comic flair it succeeds in showing you several truths: enough is never enough, a bit of one-sided chauvinistic theme where Andrea is ok with him having a love affair, but lose his mind over doubting his wife, and lastly this Pirandellian undercurrent that blends illusion with reality in Andrea’s mind.
On top of it, the film boasts a very impressive cast beyond Ugo Tognazzi and the amazing Claudia Cardinalle, you’ll find young Gian Maria Volonté (1:12:49), Salvo Randone (1:52:46) and a glimpse of Lando Buzzanca casted as the porter at the Artusi residence (1:20:38).
The film starts and ends with the rhythmic song La notte che, sung by Jimmy Fontana. You’d also appreciate the classic soundtrack by the fantastic Armando Trovajoli that alternates between light swingy organ touches illustrating La dolce vita (the good life) Andreal leads, and this nagging percussion theme that represents Andrea’s persistent worries about wife.
And inline with the film’s message: