Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell
Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell is a 1968 Technicolor American comedy film starring Gina Lollobrigida, and directed by Melvin Frank, who co-wrote the original screenplay with Denis Norden and Sheldon Keller.
|Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell|
|Directed by||Melvin Frank|
|Based on||Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell|
by Aiken Morewood
|Music by||Riz Ortolani|
|Edited by||Bill Butler|
|Distributed by||United Artists|
|Box office||$2.5 million (US/ Canada rentals)|
The United Artists release was filmed at the Cinecittà Studios in Rome. It served as the basis for the unsuccessful 1979 stage musical Carmelina. Some critics have also speculated that the 1999 stage musical Mamma Mia! -- and, by extension, its 2008 film adaptation -- are based on Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell, although the musical's book writer, Catherine Johnson, has denied any connection.
Carla "Campbell" (Gina Lollobrigida) is an Italian woman who -- during the American occupation of Italy -- slept with three American GIs in the course of 10 days, Cpl. Phil Newman (Phil Silvers), Lt. Justin Young (Peter Lawford), and Sgt. Walter Braddock (Telly Savalas). By the time she discovers she is pregnant, all three have moved on, and she, uncertain of which is the father, convinces each of the three (who are unaware of the existence of the other two) to support "his" daughter Gia financially.
To protect her reputation, as well as the reputation of her unborn child, Carla has raised the girl to believe her mother is the widow of a non-existent army captain named Eddie Campbell, a name she borrowed from a can of soup (otherwise he would have been Captain Coca-Cola, the only other term she knew in English at the time).
The film opens 20 years after the end of World War II in the village of San Forino, where the three ex-airmen attend a unit-wide reunion of the 293rd Squadron of the 15th Air Force in the village where they were stationed. The men are accompanied by their wives, and in the Newmans' case, three obnoxious children. Carla is forced into a series of comic situations as she tries to keep them -- each one anxious to meet his daughter Gia (Janet Margolin) for the first time -- from discovering her secret while at the same time trying to keep Gia from running off to Paris to be with a much older married man who will take her to Brazil.
When confronted, Mrs. Campbell admits she does not know which of the three men is Gia's father. She challenges the men by asking them what kind of father each would have been, particularly because they have never been there for all the small but important life events of their daughter. Provoked by this, the potential fathers talk to Gia and insist that she cannot run off. The "fathers" cease the support payments, and the Braddocks, who cannot have children of their own, agree to have Gia stay with them while she studies in the U.S.
- Gina Lollobrigida as mother Carla Campbell
- Phil Silvers as American Cpl. Phil Newman
- Shelley Winters as wife Shirley Newman
- Peter Lawford as American Lt. Justin Young
- Marian Moses as wife Lauren Young
- Telly Savalas as Sgt. Walter Braddock
- Lee Grant as wife Fritzie Braddock
- Giovanna Galletti as The Contessa
In his review in the Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert described the film as "a charming reminder of what movie comedies used to be like...It depends on the traditional strong points of movie comedy: well-defined situation, good dialog, emphasis on characters...director Melvin Frank holds the story together and makes it work. A lot of the credit goes to the real comic ability of Telly Savalas (the best of the three would-be fathers) and Shelley Winters, who plays Phil Silvers' wife. Miss Lollobrigida is good, too, projecting the kind of innocence that is necessary if the situation isn't going to seem vulgar."
In The New York Times, Howard Thompson wrote "This overcooked, hardbreathing frolic, which gets off to a bright start, eventually collapses in the category of impossible comedies, sniggeringly pegged to sex...the reasonable taste, the bounce and the logic all start floundering about midpoint, with everyone running wildly to catch up, including poor Miss Lollobrigida, who bears the brunt of the confusion and the redundant contrivances. Suddenly it's gags, gags and more gags, to no avail, until the plot peg of authentic paternity begins to sound like a tired, old burlesque joke. The finale is as dull as the opening chapter is sprightly."
Awards and nominations
- Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture Actress in a Musical or Comedy (Gina Lollobrigida) - nominated
- Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song ("Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell") - nominated
- Writers Guild of America Award for Best Written American Original Screenplay - nominated
- David di Donatello for Best Actress (Gina Lollobrigida), winner
- "Big Rental Films of 1969", Variety, 7 January 1970 p 15
- Simon, John (October 29, 2001). "Greek to Me". New York Magazine. Retrieved 2019-09-24.
- Ebert, Roger (1969-01-17). "Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell movie review". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved 2019-09-24.
- Thompson, Howard (1969-02-13). "Screen: 'Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell':Comedy Made in Italy Stars Gina Lollobrigida 3 Ex-Swains Support Her and Daughter". The New York Times. Retrieved 2019-09-24.