Original theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Luciano Salce|
|Produced by||Giovanni Bertolucci|
Piero De Bernardi
|Music by||Fabio Frizzi|
|Edited by||Amedeo Salfa|
Along with the first sequel Il secondo tragico Fantozzi, Fantozzi is considered the pinnacle of the series, and it shows the involvement of actors who are likely to come into comic episodes: Plinio Fernando (in drag in order to portray Fantozzi's hideous daughter), Anna Mazzamauro and Gigi Reder, among others. Fantozzi can be seen as symbol of the Italian middle class of the 1970s, unhappy and frustrated at work and with family.
The success of this film and the saga that has generated has remained virtually unchanged among the decades. The film was released on Italian cinemas on 27 March 1975. The song playing on the ending credits, Fantozzi's Ballad, written by Leo Benvenuti, Piero De Bernardi and Fabio Frizzi, is sung by Paolo Villaggio himself.
The movie starts with Pina, Ugo Fantozzi's wife, calling the "ItalPetrolCementThermoTextilPharmMetalChemical" mega-company where her husband works, asking to check if her husband is still there since she hasn't had any news from him in eighteen days. They find out that Fantozzi, somehow, has been walled into the company's old bathroom.
Going to work
In order to get to punch his badge at the 08.30 sharp, 16 years ago Fantozzi, began setting the alarm clock at 6.15. Today, by dint of experiments and continuous improvements, he has finally managed to set it at 07:51... that is, the limit of what is humanly possible. Everything is calculated on the edge of the second: five seconds to regain consciousness; four seconds to get over the daily impact of seeing his wife, and six more seconds to ask himself, as usual with no plausible answer, what ever pushed him to marry that odd sort of domestic animal; three seconds to drink Mrs Fantozzi's coffee... 3000 degrees Fahrenheit! Between eight and ten seconds to cool down his scalded tongue under the tap... two and a half seconds to kiss his daughter Mariangela; then coffee and milk with incorporated hair-combing, then brushing his teeth with coffee-flavoured minty toothpaste, resulting in an instantaneous bowel movement... all of this performed in six flat seconds, a European Record! He still has a 3-minute buffer to get dressed and run to the bus stop to catch the 08:01 bus. All of this is possible, of course, only without other tragic unforeseen circumstances...— Fantozzi's narrator voice.
The first episode shows Fantozzi going to work in the morning. Fantozzi is bound to be late because of one of those "tragic unforeseen circumstances" (such as the tearing of a shoelace), so he decides to catch the bus by jumping from his balcony and running for it (unsuccessfully). Eventually he reaches his workplace in an ambulance, signs the release papers with his own blood and runs frantically towards the clocking machine, with his colleagues urging him on (though he's not 'helped' as he would be then "disqualified" just like marathon man Dorando Pietri). He makes it and then passes out.
In the second part/episode, while attending the megacompany's president's funeral ("prematurely died at the young age of 126 years"), Fantozzi asks Miss Silvani out for lunch. She accepts, but Fantozzi ends up getting into trouble as, while he's at the wheel of his tiny Autobianchi Bianchina she picks up a fight with the driver of an Opel Kadett while they're heading to the trattoria. Fantozzi gets beaten up, and his car badly damaged.
In this third part, Fantozzi plays in a football match organised between married and unmarried people from his office, naturally Filini is the perp and organiser. The match is played on a terrible pitch. All players have their own "clerk cloud" following their every move when on holiday. After two Fantozzi's own goal and his mystic vision of St. Peter standing on the crossbar the match eventually get abandoned because of waterlogged pitch, more like the pitch turns into a swamp! The previous game ended with a score of 3 heart attacks to 2 drowning.
In fourth episode, Filini convinced Fantozzi to buy a small motor boat, so the two go on a camping trip near a lake, but first they get arrested for having doused "the Minister of Petroleum" from an unspecified African country with water discharged from Fantozzi's clerk cloud, they are sentenced on the spot to receive 100 lashes, which are administered by the motorcycle cops with their own leather baldrics. Because of this little "mishap" the two arrive in camp late at night, where they are rebuked by a group of German tourists because they make too much noise downloading tent poles. In an attempt to pitch a tent, planting stakes, Filini pounds unintentionally (in part because of his almost total blindness) twice a finger Fantozzi, forcing him to avoid further reprimands by the Germans, to get away for more than a mile to make a monstrous pain scream. The morning after clumsily trying to fish, eliciting laughter of the tourists come from Germany. During the fishing trip, pulling the power cord of the motor boat, Filini thrown into the water and then Fantozzi make the same with Filini. Following Fantozzi throws first in the lake the engine of the boat is sinking, and then planting in the hull in the water on a flag pole that was intended as a sail. Then they hire a monstrous rowing boat, but by taking a running start to throw the barrel, the lines get tangled and the two are linked at the bottom of the boat. During the day, the heat, they begin to hallucinate: Filini feels like Ulysses and the sirens Fantozzi is kept to her style, "mystical hallucinations" (Jesus walking on the water wondering if we are to multiply bread and fish and complains because the two employees do not have). Very thirsty and dehydrated, the two are also used to be mocked by the cloud that drains the water a few inches from the boat.
In fifth episode, all the company employees' children have to go to the director's office and tell a poem they made up for Christmas. Fantozzi's daughter (Mariangela, "Cheetah the monkey!!"), despite creating a very original poem, will get insulted and made fun of, cause of her terrible ugliness. Fantozzi, realizing what is happening, storms in and just by looking at his supposed "superiors" manages to make them stare down in shame. After wishing them "merry christmas and happy new year" in a scathing tone he leads his daughter away. When she asks him why the people were calling her "Cheetah" he tells her a white lie pretending they were actually comparing her to "Cita Hayworth". This is one of the few episodes where we see the human and moral stature of Fantozzi elevating himself from his servilism.
Happy New Year
Sixth episode. It is New Year's Eve, and Fantozzi goes to a New Year's Eve party with his colleagues. Everything is a disaster: the waiter throws every plate over Fantozzi's dress, he falls through a window during the dance and the band leader rigs the clock (cause he has to go to another party) and runs away at half past ten. At midnight, someone throws a heavy cooking machine over Fantozzi's car, destroying it.
Seventh episode. Fantozzi's new director, the Honorable Cavalier Earl Diego Catellani, is a billiard enthusiast who is known to promote employees who lose to him. He also forces his underlings to worship a statue of his old mother. Hoping for a career advancement, Fantozzi undergoes billiard training, in order to make his eventual defeat look credible. Catellani challenges Fantozzi to a game of five-pin at his house in the presence of the entire office. Fantozzi initially underperforms on purpose and is derided by his boss and the other connivent colleagues. Motivated by the grief of his own wife witnessing his humiliation, Fantozzi decides to play to his real ability and defeats Catellani. To escape the director's wrath, he abducts Catellani's mother, demanding a huge ransom yet abandoning the old woman who in the meantime has fallen in love with her captor.
Eighth episode. Fantozzi and Filini are playing tennis, at 6 AM, in a cold and foggy day at Tennis club dei Pini. The match ends disastrously, with Fantozzi knocking himself with his old wood tennis racket of the year 1920 and Filini fainting after breaking the net.
Dining at Japanese restaurant
Ninth episode. Fantozzi invites Miss Silvani for a dinner in a Japanese restaurant where, because of a misunderstanding with a waiter, Miss Silvani's dog is cooked and served as a dish.
Tenth episode. To repay Silvani for the loss of her dog, Fantozzi is forced to go for the holidays to Courmayeur with Calboni and her. Due to the great cold and Calboni's "monstrous lies", Fantozzi falls to "competitive hallucinations" and claims he's been a national lever skier (but also he's not skiing from 35 years). Invited to a party, Fantozzi, after drinking two litres of beer, explodes in a powerful burp, which creates an avalanche. After a disastrous skiing session using archaic wooden ski set, returning at the hotel, Fantozzi hears Calboni and Miss Silvani make love.
The Galactic Mega-director
Frustrated and heartbroken by Ms. Silvani's affair with Calboni, Fantozzi is granted a request to move to another office. His new officemate, a staunch Communist, indoctrinates Fantozzi with his Marxist theories, eventually turning him against their employers, whom Fantozzi now regards as a privileged and exploitative elite. After smashing a company window, a rebellious Fantozzi is summoned by the Galactic Mega-director, the highest authority in the company. Using his condescending political rhetoric and deceptive displays of clemency, the director persuades Fantozzi to return to his docile and humble self, convincing him of a somewhat divine nature of the higher corporate ranks. In return for his act of contrition, Fantozzi is allowed to touch the director's chair made of human leather and to swim in his personal aquarium, where selected faithful employees replace fish.