Il mattatore (Love and Larceny). 1960. Italy/France. Directed by Dino Risi. Screenplay by Ettore Scola, Ruggero Maccari, Sandro Continenza. With Vittorio Gassman, Maria Luisa Mangini (Dorian Gray). In Italian; English subtitles. 104 min.
A scam perpetrated at the house of a petty con man is but one of the many swindles and frauds in Love and Larceny that lead, inevitably, to marriage. Risi’s wonderfully enjoyable episodic comedy, starring Vittorio Gassman as the chameleonic actor who disguises his passion for thievery and Peppino De Filippo as his accomplice, was filmed in Rome and its newly erected suburbs, reflecting a city undergoing rampant (and rampantly corrupt) growth. “It was a game of Chinese boxes,” Risi noted, “a phase of transformation for Gassman who didn’t yet have a real, recognizable face on film. Vittorio wore the faces of others in Il mattatore, a schizoid Gassman teetering between serious, but already ‘over the top,’ theater and rigid cinema. Before doing my film, Gassman’s voice had often actually been dubbed.” New 35mm print courtesy Luce Cinecittà.