Winner of the Best Film award at the 1966 Cannes Film Festival, Pietro Germi’s sharp-toothed and satirical send-up combines the standard sex comedy format with some unexpectedly subtle observations about rural life. Signore e Signori centers on hypocrisy, absurd moralism and the unravelling of sex secrets in Treviso, a small northern Italian town. The film contains three interweaving stories; in the first, Toni (Alberto Lionello) spreads the rumour of his recent impotence in order to lay a husband’s suspicions to rest; the second tale features rapturous adultery between Visigato (Gaston Moschin) and his mistress (Virna Lisi), which naturally brings down the murderous wrath of abandoned wife, church and state; in the third, when an underage girl (Patrizia Valturi) gives herself to a group of friends in a single day, her angry father (Carlo Bagno) charges one of the men and certainly would take him to court until a lovely lady (Olga Villi) makes him an offer he can’t refuse. (Unlike most portmanteau movies, a character in this film may take the lead in one segment, only to turn up as a supporting player in another, so that the social fabric of Germi’s mad world is seamless.)

New York Film Festival Programme

Presented in cooperation with the Italian Cultural Institute