DVD Review HTF Review: Seduced and Abandoned

Discussion in 'DVD' started by PatWahlquist, Aug 23, 2006.

  1. PatWahlquist

    PatWahlquist Supporting Actor

    Jun 13, 2002
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    Seduced and Abandoned

    Studio: The Criterion Collection # 350
    Rated: No rating noted
    Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1, enhanced for 16x9 displays
    Audio: Italian DD Mono
    Subtitles: English
    Time: 117 minutes
    Disc Format: 1 DVD-9
    Case Style: Keep case
    Theatrical Release Date: 1964
    DVD Release Date: August 22, 2006

    Agnese Ascalone (Stefania Sandrelli) has sinned: she has been lustful with her sister’s fiancée’, Peppino (Aldo Puglisi). She confesses her sin and as a good Catholic, she must repent. Even though she is still taken with Peppino, she writes him a note to end the affair, but winds up tearing it up and throwing it in the toilet. Her mother, Francesca (Lina La Galla), finds a scrap of the note that causes her concern. Being the good wife and mother, Francesca takes it to her husband, Vincenzo (Saro Urzi) to try and decipher its meaning. Vincenzo, enraged and concerned, goes into Agnese’s room and while she sleeps, he inspects her bed to find her sleeping on rocks as a means of atonement. Convinced she has sinned, he does what any right minded father of that day and time would do: he slaps her around when she won’t tell him who she has been with, he locks her in a back bedroom. Further, he takes a sample of her urine to the local doctor only to find she is pregnant. Agnese’s transgressions have now brought shame and dishonor on his family, and Don Vincenzo must make it right even if it means breaking the law and being very generous with the fisticuffs.

    Vincezo takes his wrath to Peppino’s house and forces him to write a note to his fiancée’ Agnese’s sister, Matilde (Paolo Biggio), ending the engagement. Vincezo goes in search of a new man for Matilde and finds the penniless, suicidal Baron Rizieri (Leopoldo Trieste). Peppino refuses to marry Agnese on the basis she is no longer a virgin, and he has a right to a virgin regardless of his transgression. Vincenzo consults with his lawyer/ brother on what to do, and they hatch a plan to have Peppino killed by Vincenzo’s son, Antonio (Lando Buzzanca). Antonio is too scared of the consequences, so he fails to kill Peppino, but he does attract the attention of the local authorities. After much legal maneuvering and still more schemes, the family reaches a settlement that may or may not satisfy everyone under Don Vincezo’s roof.

    Coming off the success of Divorce Italian Style, director Pietro Germi delved back into the relationship arena with Seduced and Abandoned (Sedotta e Abbandonata) in 1964 and followed it a few years later with The Birds, the Bees and the Italians. Seduced and Abandoned is shocking for its time in that the viewing public of the time was exposed to such a violent father as opposed to just a violent man. Audiences may have been used to the movie tough guys slapping around a dame when she got hysterical, but I don’t think they’d been exposed to this type of the latter-day-termed domestic violence. I’m not saying it wasn’t prevalent here or in Sicily, but it certainly wasn’t shown on the screen. Even with the violence, and the racy themes of adultery, lust and murder, Seduced and Abandoned satire slaps the viewer in the face with the outrageousness of the lengths Don Vincenzo will go to restore his family’s besmirched honor. Urzi also plays the role with a hint of sarcasm and a twinkle in his eye telling the viewer not to take it too seriously. Sandrelli’s Agnese is played exquisitely, at some points playing the fifteen year old dead on, then switching into a femme fatale that we believe may have seduced poor Peppino instead of the other way around.

    By the end of the picture, we have been taken on an emotional and physical roller coaster that may have been an indictment that the old ways were not necessarily the best, and the changing times and laws (a key factor in the story) would soon arrive. Whether or not these societal changes benefit(ed) anyone is up to the individual or family to decide, but Seduced and Abandoned will at least pose the question.

    The picture is correctly framed at 1.85:1 and it is an anamorphic transfer. Criterion is good enough to provide us with more information about the transfer itself, so I will pass this along: “This new high definition transfer, which was created on a C-Reality telecine with Oliver Electronic Wetgate processing from the original 35mm negative.” The picture was also cleaned of dirt and debris, and it is virtually flawless except for two noticeable instances of dirt right at the beginning of the picture. The black and white picture exhibits excellent contrast and very good shadow detail. Grey scale was accurate as well. Both foreground and background detail is good and sharp. Edge enhancement was minimal and there were no compression artifacts or video noise.

    I watched the disc with the Dolby Digital mono track engaged as this is the only audio option. Sound was crisp and clear and LFE’s were minimal. The musical score came through clearly with a nice balance between the mids and highs. ADR was noticed, and the voices had a natural sound to them. As with the video, Criterion notes the following about the soundtrack: “The soundtrack was mastered at 24-bit from the 35mm dual-band optical track print, and audio restoration tools were used to reduce clicks, pops, hiss and crackle.” None of the latter was noticed at all.

    Bonus Material:
    Commedia all’ Italiana: Germi Style (25:34): This is an excellent doc that describes what makes up the Italian comedy, and specifically what Germi did in the genre. It’s a three pronged discussion with screenwriters Furio Scarpelli and Luciano Vincenzoni, and Italian film scholar Mario Sesti. It was enough to make me want to see more of Germi’s work and the other Italian directors cited in the discussion.

    Interview with Stefania Sandrelli (6:26), her screen test (2:00) and an interview with Lando Buzzanca (6:41): Sandrelli and Buzzanca provide on set memories, but Buzzanca is far more dramatic and entertaining. And they both look amazing for their age.

    Theatrical Trailer Anamorphic but not as clean as the feature.

    Also included in the package is a new essay by Jonathan Rosenbaum and art by renowned comic book artist Michael Allred in the package

    Seduced and Abandoned and the package Criterion provides, is an excellent introduction to Italian films. While I wish the Commedia all’ Italiana doc had been longer, this is still a fine entry into the Criterion line.
  2. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

    Dec 11, 2000
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    Thanks Pat! I'll definitely check this out.
  3. obscurelabel

    obscurelabel Stunt Coordinator

    Dec 11, 2003
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    Real Name:
    I believe this is the first anamorphic title from Criterion to be windowboxed. Thoughts???
  4. Lord Dalek

    Lord Dalek Cinematographer

    Apr 4, 2005
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    Real Name:
    Joel Henderson
    If I'm not mistaken they've been windowboxing widescreen films for a while. Unless you consider those thin black bars to the right and left of Contempt not windowboxing...

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