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The Most Wonderful Evening of My Life
La più bella serata della mia vita
Italy, France | 1972 | 106 min | DCP |
In Italian with English subtitles

narrative | section: Restorations and Rediscoveries
Premiere Status: Special Presentation

directed by: Ettore Scola
writer: Ettore Scola, Sergio Amidei, Friedrich Dürrenmatt
cinematographer: Claudio Cirillo
editor: Raimondo Crociani
music: Armando Trovajoli
producer: Dino De Laurentiis
cast: Alberto Sordi, Michel Simon, Charles Vanel, Claude Brasseur, Claude Dauphin, Janet Agren
One of the greatest of all Italian leading men, Alberto Sordi was a uniquely satirical performer who specialized in creating fast-talking, morally questionable, yet utterly believable and totally compelling comic characters. In a class with actors like Peter Sellers and Jack Lemmon, Sordi here plays Alfredo Rossi, a shifty nouveau riche fabric salesman from Rome who crosses the border from Lombardy into Lugano, Switzerland in order to illegally launder some money. There, he fatefully follows a beautiful motorcyclist, a decision that leaves him stranded near a Swiss castle, occupied by a wealthy, retired Swiss judge. While waiting for his car to be repaired, Rossi finds himself the recipient of the judge and three more of his retired colleagues, who, over dinner, propose to Rossi that he be put on "trial" as that evening’s "entertainment." Accepting it as a game, Rossi has more than a few surprises in store for himself. Told with surreal, Kafkaesque touches and an incisive eye for European class divisions, writer/director Ettore Scola’s black comedy is not only the perfect Alberto Sordi vehicle, it also offers a showcase for four venerable French performers as the judges: Michel Simon, Pierre Brasseur, Claude Dauphin, and Charles Vanel. An adaptation of a play by Friedrich Dürrenmatt, author of The Visit, The Most Beautiful Evening was never released in the U.S. It will be shown in a recently restored DCP presentation from Sony Pictures.

- Jim Healy
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