Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell

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Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell
BuonaSeraMrsCampbell.jpg
Original poster
Directed by Melvin Frank
Produced by
  • C.O. Erickson (executive producer)
  • Melvin Frank (producer)
Written by
Starring
Music by Riz Ortolani
Cinematography Gábor Pogány
Editing by Bill Butler
Distributed by United Artists
Release dates December 1968
Running time 108 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $2.5 million (US/ Canada rentals)[1]

Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell is a 1968 American comedy film starring Gina Lollobrigida and directed by Melvin Frank, who co-wrote the original screenplay with Denis Norden and Sheldon Keller.

The United Artists release was filmed at the Cinecittà Studios in Rome. It served as the basis for the unsuccessful 1979 stage musical Carmelina and the plot of the enormously successful stage musical Mamma Mia! and its 2008 movie adaptation.[2]

Plot [edit]

The title character, Carla "Campbell" (Gina Lollobrigida), is an Italian woman who—during the American occupation of Italy—slept with three American GIs (a corporal, a sergeant, and a lieutenant) in the course of ten days, Phil Newman (Phil Silvers), Justin Young (Peter Lawford), and 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 an army captain named Eddy Campbell, a name she borrowed from a can of soup (she is very fond of Campbell's soups).

The film opens twenty years after the end of World War II in the village of San Forino, where the three ex-soldiers attend a unit-wide reunion in the village they liberated. The men are accompanied by their wives, and in the Newmans' case, three obnoxious children. Carla is forced into a series of comic slapstick situations as she tries to keep them—each one anxious to meet his daughter (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 take care of Gia while she studies in the U.S.

Cast [edit]

Musical score[edit]

A soundtrack album was released by United Artists Records.

  • San Forino March
    • Music and Lyrics by Andrew Frank
  • The Army Air Corps Song
    • Music by Robert Crawford

Critical response[edit]

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."[3]

In the New York Times, Howard Thompson stated, "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."[4]

Awards and nominations[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Big Rental Films of 1969", Variety, 7 January 1970 p 15
  2. ^ Mamma Mia! Meets Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell[dead link]
  3. ^ Roger Ebert review
  4. ^ New York Times review

External links[edit]