Avanti! (1972)

Directed by Billy Wilder

This movie really surprised me. Though it’s a little long and it definitely has a late 60’s, early 70’s pacing, Avanti! is a delightful and amusing romantic comedy about pretty average people who – can you believe it? – actually look average and not like the botox-ed stars of today.

The movie stars Jack Lemmon and Juliet Mills as the son and daughter of a man and a woman who have spent the last 10 years meeting every July 15th to August 15th in Italy for a summer love affair outside their marriages.

In discovering this secret life of their parents, Lemmon and Mill’s characters discover one another.

The movie breezes over the morality of infidelity – it really only deals with it to the extent it allows for some comedic reaction shots from Lemmon.

In fact, to a point the movie is one generation trying to adapt to a later generation’s approach to sexuality and relationships. It’s a bit anachronistic in this regard.

Clive Revill as Carlo Carlucci tries to explain matters to Wendall in diplomatic fashion.

The downside of this generational difference is the general view of men and women – the influence of feminism is utterly absent in this film.

While there is nothing overtly disquieting about this masculine defined world, you do feel somewhat uncomfortable with the view of the places of men and women.

On the upside, however, this is a much gentler, kinder form of romanticism.

There is nothing frenetic about this love either in the way it is portrayed or in the way it is presented by director Billy Wilder.

Another element of the times (dating this somewhat) is the nude scene – Lemmon and Mills strip down and swim out to a rock.

Wendell Armbruster (Jack Lemmon) and Pamela Piggott (Juliet Mills) enjoy a drink.

Again, they look like real people – no body doubles here, and no gym workouts or nip and tuck business. They actually look like people you could meet in your life.

The one element of the movie that seemed a bit modern, and which puzzled the hell out of me, is the fact that a key story element is that Juliet Mills is supposedly fat – or at least on the plump side. She even gained weight for the role.

For the life of me, however, I can’t see her as heavy, much less fat.

She’s quite beautiful in the film. At best, and even this is a stretch, she has a faint hint of a Rubenesque quality.

Personally, I find her tremendously fetching. But I suppose everyone has his or her own tastes.

While not a great movie by any means, Avanti! is a wonderful romantic comedy and well worth seeing at least once. It’s one of the better, though lesser known, Wilder films.

Juliet Mills as Pamela Piggott in Avanti! (1972)

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