Il vedovo (The Widower). 1959. Italy. Directed by Dino Risi. Screenplay by Dino Risi, Fabio Carpi, Sandro Continenza, Rodolfo Sonego, Dino Verde. With Alberto Sordi, Franca Valeri. 100 min.
The irresistible conceit of black comedy—a man pays to have his rich wife murdered—is given an added twist of ironic cruelty in this European cult favorite, little known in the US. Actress Franca Valeri fondly recalled, “I’m very proud to have coined the nickname my character calls her husband: that ‘Cretinetti’ that brings him into line and immediately gives the idea of the relationship between this authoritarian Milanese wife and her Roman consort; it’s a name that becomes a sort of catchphrase throughout the film.” New 35mm print courtesy Luce Cinecittà.