La califfa (1970)

The workforce of a factory owned by the patriarchal boss Doberdo are on strike. During a police raid to break the strike, one of the workers is killed.  The dead man’s wife, La Califfa, confronts Doberdo several times. On each occasion, the factory owner and the widow feel strangely drawn to one another…

Director: Alberto Bevilacqua.
Stars: Ugo Tognazzi, Romy Schneider, Massimo Farinelli, Marina Berti, Guido Alberti, Roberto Bisacco, Gigi Ballista, Massimo Serato, Eva Brun, Luigi Casellato, Ernesto Colli.

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9 Comments

  1. Chris Deile
    July 23, 2019
    Reply

    Love “La Califfa” clips on YouTube. The tragic melancholy motivated me to compare it to an Anchorage Daily News commentary on senseless bear deaths (property owners killing bears for no good reason, etc.) in a letter published in the ADN last year or so. Love Romy Schneider, and recently learned Ugo Tognazzi was in ‘La Cage aux Folles’; hadn’t known that, another very enjoyable film (the original at least, haven’t yet seen the remake with Robin Williams).

  2. Chris Deile
    July 29, 2019
    Reply

    Wow. Just watched La Califfa in full for the first time. Thanks for the English subtitles. “In his blood were ideals, love, rage. And now it’s drying on the ground like the piss of a dog!” Tragic melancholy and dreadful existentialism. When I was a teenager working at a fly-in fishing lodge, the pilot shot a black bear from a tree stand (there were two black bears eating regularly from a compost pile). Couldn’t understand why he found it necessary to do that–the bears were not at all aggressive or displaying any threat. He had me help dump the bear into the middle of the river from a boat late at night. Watching that dead bear sink down into the water is the same exact feeling I get when viewing this film. And the ultra-sad Ennio Morricone soundtrack brings tears to my eyes. Thank you very much for posting this film online.

  3. Chris Deile
    August 1, 2019
    Reply

    One more thought here if I might be allowed….Just submitted a letter to the Laramie Boomerang and again cited ‘La Califfa’. Though instead of referring to the “dreadful existentialism” (in comment above), mentioned how much I appreciated the “vulgar existentialism” contained in that opening line. Vulgar is a better description, as the film emphasizes life’s vulgarity in other places as well in portraying the realism involved.

  4. Tony Williams
    November 28, 2019
    Reply

    Total male menopausal bourgeois crap. It fails both as melodrama on the lines of post- neo realism “Beauty and the Beast” as well as any convincing representation of contemporary industrial conflicts. Years ago, I acquired the Morricone soundtrack before seeing the film. Now I can return to the soundtrack to obliterate any remaining memories of a truly dreadful film that never deserved any international distribution despite the acting of its two main leads.

  5. Chris Deile
    January 9, 2020
    Reply

    Wasn’t it Simone Signoret who said (in ‘Room at the Top’), ….”Don’t be so serious”.
    Here’s the aforementioned letter:

    Bob Franken’s commentary ends: “As we venture to the heavens, we need to remember we still maintain an earthly hell that diminishes any human achievement.” (‘Human Highs and Lows’; Laramie Boomerang; August 1, 2019)
    Agreed; outspoken Trump supporter Trevor Bauer’s being traded to the Cincinnati Reds yesterday immediately came to mind. The Reds were my favorite team for almost 50 years up until yesterday, as Bauer reportedly likes to tell people online he disagrees with to go kill themselves. (‘Trevor Bauer Insinuates Indians or MLB Restricted His Twitter Access; Sports Illustrated; March 8, 2019) Moreover, the Reds haven’t been playing African American Phillip Ervin even though he has the highest batting average on the team.
    Serenity Prayer author Reinhold Niebuhr’s ‘The Nature and Destiny of Man’ also came to mind, as did Arthur Schlesinger Jr.’s ‘Forgetting Reinhold Niebuhr’ (The New York Times; September 18, 2005). In that commentary, Schlesinger explained Niebuhr’s opposing religious (and political) absolutism, while quoting Niebuhr as a moral relativist, helpful to any struggling with religious guilt trips. Swiss theologian Karl Barth: “Men have never been good, they are not good and they never will be good.”
    By the way, the film ‘La Califfa’ starring Romy Schneider is now available online with English subtitles. Love the opening line uttered by Schneider reflecting vulgar existentialism. It’s almost as good as the wonderful pessimist Jesus: “If it’s this way in the green wood, how will it be in the dry?” Chris Deile; Laramie

  6. Chris Deile
    January 10, 2020
    Reply

    Pardon me, I made two mistakes in January 9 comment. Simone Signoret actually said to Joe (at least in the English version): “What’s wrong, you look so serious”. And the wrong word was used when copying the letter here: The Franken quote should say “As we venture to the heavens, we need to remember we still maintain an earthly hell that tarnishes any human achievement.” (not diminishes) . The Simone Signoret quote was an attempt to dismiss the November 28 comment by “Tony Williams” as it could be a troll. Nevertheless, to address the point(s): “Total male menopausal bourgeois crap”: That’s an anti-gay insult apparently directed at Ugo Tognazzi having being in ‘La Cage aux Folles’. As for “bourgeois” (simple-minded?), it doesn’t take intellectualism to appreciate the image of a dead man with political protest signs scattered about him. It’s the same thing over and over again; a senseless cycle of violence. Nor is it like intellectualism (or reason) has provided an answer. Dostoyevsky emphasized the inadequacy of reason, as did Evgeney Zamyatin in his dystopian novel ‘We’ (based in part on The Grand Inquisitor in Dostoyevsky’s ‘The Brother’s Karamazov’) when pointing out the square root of minus 1 cannot be solved by reason alone–it requires belief in an imaginary system of numbers to solve it). I’m no longer pacifist, and in fact am a self-avowed pseudo-intellectual :), but William James has never been answered when he explained in ‘The Moral Equivalent of War’ that the reason we have war is because we want it; war stimulates us in ways nothing else does, that if only we could find something that stimulated us as much, but in a positive sense, we’d be onto something. Besides, and granted this may be a little silly, I don’t know the meaning of Katty Line’s Italian song Vent ‘Anni (unable to locate lyrics to run through online translation) but the simplicity has always struck me as very beautiful. The November 29 comment concludes: “…despite the acting of its two main leads”: Wouldn’t that alone merit the film worthy of being seen?

  7. Chris Deile
    January 13, 2020
    Reply

    Just viewed ‘La Califfa’ again. Enjoyed it very much, and as before, certain scenes brought tears to my eyes. Though even with the English sub-titles, I still don’t have a thorough understanding of the film. Doberdo is of those called communists. Maybe that’s the “Tony Williams’ connection (from November post here). When Googling ‘Tony Williams’, the late jazz drummer links appear, then a Tony Williams who is a Senior Teaching Fellow at the Bill of Rights Institute: “Established in September 1999, the Bill of Rights Institute is a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational organization that works to engage, educate, and empower individuals with a passion for the freedom and opportunity that exist in a free society.” Etc. Maybe someone is being humorous regarding communism (if that’s possible)? And I went and haphazardly referenced Simone Signoret, who just so happens to have interesting comments on communism in an interview (from decades ago) recently posted on YouTube. One other thought….’La Califfa’ brought to mind another early 70’s film, ‘X, Y and Zee’ starring Elizabeth Taylor, Susannah York, and Michael Caine. I’ve always preferred ‘X, Y and Zee’ to “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf?’, even though the latter is the classic.

  8. Chris Deile
    January 14, 2020
    Reply

    YouTube:
    Simone Signoret interview 1960
    video posted by Marmar on Dec 30, 2019

  9. Chris Deile
    January 14, 2020
    Reply

    From Yevgeney Zamyatin Wiki page (on ‘We’):

    The novel uses mathematical concepts symbolically. The spaceship that D-503 is supervising the construction of is called the Integral, which he hopes will “integrate the grandiose cosmic equation”. D-503 also mentions that he is profoundly disturbed by the concept of the square root of −1—which is the basis for imaginary numbers (imagination being deprecated by the One State). Zamyatin’s point, probably in light of the increasingly dogmatic Soviet government of the time, would seem to be that it is impossible to remove all the rebels against a system. Zamyatin even says this through I-330: “There is no final revolution. Revolutions are infinite.”[20]

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