Moving on to some contemporary reviews of films by another of my favourite directors, Damiano Damiani. Here’s one from the Times for Arturo’s Island…
It’s not true, as our English teachers used to tell us, that two negatives make a positive. Arturo’s Island, for instance, is essentially a double negative film: not uninteresting, not unintelligent, not unsuccesful, but in sum not quite interesting, intelligent or succesful enough.
It is based on Miss Elsa Morante’s novel about the intricate and equivocal relations between a sensitive boy running wild on a Mediterranean island, his God like wandering father (who turns out, of course, to have feet of clay), the new wife the father brings back, hardly older than the buy, and the mysterious convict ‘friend’ the father subsequently inflicts on the household and sacrifices everything for. The result, in the film anyway, is very much a woman’s eye view of men among themselves; in particular poor Arturo, the boy around who the action revolves, is made to spend most of his time with tears pouring down his handsome face, frequently for no noticeable reason at all, except that this is marked from the beginning by the self-consciously beautiful photography as a ‘sensitive’ film and the more tears we see the more sensitive we are likely to think it is.
It is not really fair to talk of the film in quite that tone, though; it is not pretentious, merely too ambitious for the real but limited talents of its writer-director, Mr. Damiano Damiani, who has made one or two goodish thrillers like Il rosetto but is here clearly out of his depth. He gets an excellent performance out of the the child-wife (Miss Kay Meersman, who was Bunuels ‘young one’ a little while back and looks a much better actress dubbed in Italian), a passable one from the boy and a slightly absurd one from the father.
The Times, Friday, Mar 15, 1963; pg. 15; Issue 55650; col F