Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Oggi, domani, dopodomani (1965); The Man With the Balloons (1968); Break-Up (1968 or 1969)


One Sheet Poster (courtesy of the archives at emovieposter.com)

I have been trying to decide the best way to address this film, one of the most unusual projects of Catherine's career.  I will likely revisit and update this post in the future, as I learn additional information about the film.  I am going to start by re-posting some of Dylan's comments from his original blog post on this film.

Dylan's 2011 Comments:

This is the most unusual project of Catherine Spaak's career as no less than three (known) versions of this film exist. The only version released in Italy was a truncated thirty-minute cut shoed into the omnibus film "Oggi, domani, dopodomani" (1965, and this may or may not have been released in America under the title "The Man, the Woman, and the Money") while there were at least two different American releases of a feature length edit, one under "The Man With the Balloons" (distributed by Sigma III-Filmways) and another through MGM as "Break-Up," both include additional footage not shot by the film's director, Marco Ferreri, and both apparently played in America in 1968. It's not known to me at this time if these American cuts differ significantly from one another or if they were the same cut packaged differently (it's safe to assume that one of these was dubbed into English). Beyond this, there was a print screened at the Venice Film Festival in 2009, which is either a restored version of "The Man With the Balloons" or "Break-Up," or a restoration of Marco Ferreri's original director's cut that he shot and assembled in 1964.

The story goes that Carlo Ponti agreed to produce a comedy script Marco Ferreri wrote for Marcello Mastroianni. Financing in place, Ferreri made an announcement on the first day of filming that the script everybody read and studied was to be thrown out and that they would be doing an improvisational absurdist comedy. Catherine Spaak, who at this high-point in her career had total freedom in the projects she chose to work on, wasn't happy with this but stayed on because she wanted to work with Mastroianni.

In an interview I saw with her on the documentary "Marco Ferreri: The Man Who Came From the Future," she comes across as bitter about the experience, not smiling once for the camera in recounting her experiences during the shooting, acting particularly stern expressing how disgusted she was during the filming of a scene where Mastroianni squirts condensed milk all over her stomach and licks it off (only included in the longer cuts, but seen in this documentary).

When Ferreri assembled his first cut and screened it for Ponti, the producer flipped and said he wouldn't release it, saying among other things that he was sure it would "ruin" Mastroianni's career. What Ponti eventually did was cut it down to thirty minutes and place it at the beginning the omnibus film "Oggi, domani, dopodomani" (which included two other segments starring Mastroianni), and three years later distribute a feature-length cut (or two feature-length cuts, or one cut released under two titles) in America.

Now, to add my comments:

As noted in Variety and information on press photos, Ferreri was working on this film in January and February of 1964 in Milan, so we can conclude that Catherine was working on it at the start of 1964, during the winter.  Therefore, it was her next film project after La calda vita.

Based on a lot of research, which I will describe in more detail below, here is what I believe happened with this project:

Ferreri shot the film in January and February of 1964 (at which time Catherine's work was completed, I believe).  Carlo Ponti, unhappy with Ferreri's product, essentially shelved the project as he tried to determine a way to salvage his investment.  Eventually, he decided to package a truncated, 30-minute version as the first segment of the three-part omnibus film Oggi, domani, dopodomani, released in Italy on December 28, 1965. (Note: The November 24, 1965 issue of Variety reported that work on "Paranoia" started October 1 in Rome). Carlo Ponti had an agreement with Joseph Levine and Embassy Pictures to distribute the film outside of Italy, but Levine turned down the finished product as "not a first-class motion picture" and sued Ponti in New York (with the case eventually being settled out of court, terms undisclosed). 

At some point (perhaps in the summer of 1967, or later), Ponti, in an effort to find a distributor and salvage a feature-length release for his investment, worked out a deal with Mastroianni and Ferreri to shoot two additional sequences (a sequence where Mario visits a hippie-poet in an apartment in his building and a sequence where Mario goes into a night club, the latter scene being shot in color, as opposed to the black-and-white stock used for the rest of the film).  Both of these sequences involve topless female nudity and circumstances that were more attuned to late 1960's audiences.  Using those two additional sequences, Ponti produced a longer version of Ferreri's film, which premiered in an English-subtitled version as The Man With the Balloons in the U.S.A. on June 24, 1968 through Sigma III-a Filmways Company and was released in conjunction with MGM outside of the U.S.A. and Canada as Break-Up (probably starting in 1968 or 1969).  I have seen a version of Break-Up that runs 82 minutes, and the pressbook for The Man With the Balloons says it has an 85-minute running time.  There is probably little, if any, difference between those long versions.  

As will be discussed further below, however, the 30-minute version is not merely a cut-down version of the longer film.  It includes some footage not present in the long version.  There is also an additional factor that is very confusing for people who only have IMDB as a source.  Parts 2 and 3 of Oggi, domani, dopodomani (the Mastroianni/Virna Lisi and Mastroianni/Pamela Tiffin segments) were released in the U.S.A. through MGM (instead of Embassy, as discussed above) under the titles Kiss the Other Sheik and The Man, The Woman, and The Money.  Unlike in Italy, that U.S. release of Kiss the Other Sheik did not include the short version of the Ferreri film, which was being shown in an extended version at the same time in the U.S.A. as The Man With the Balloons.  To my knowledge, the short version was never released in the U.S.A.

Hopefully, you are not thoroughly confused. Let's take a closer look at each version.

The Man With the Balloons

This version of the film was released in the U.S. through Sigma III-a Filmways Company in an Italian language print with English subtitles.  It premiered on June 24, 1968 at the Beekman Theatre at 65th Street and 2nd Avenue in New York.  The Beekman can be seen in the film Annie Hall.  It was demolished in 2005.  Here are pictures of the outside and inside of the theatre (from cinematreasures.org):

If interested, you can read more about the theatre here Beekman Theatre and here BoxOffice Magazine 1952. Here is a newspaper ad for the premiere:


The pressbook says that it has a running time of 85 minutes and gives the following synopsis:

Mario (MARCELLO MASTROIANNI), a successful young businessman in Milan, brings home some samples of rubber balloons he has ordered as a promotional device for his candy manufacturing firm.  When his girlfriend, Giovanna (CATHERINE SPAAK), arrives to spend the evening with him she discovers one of them and, giggling, proceeds to blow it up until it bursts.

At once Mario becomes intrigued with discovering exactly at what point the balloon will burst.  He becomes so engrossed with the problem that he brushes aside Giovanni's desire for love-making.  He rushes to an upstairs apartment where a poet friend, entertaining four girlfriends, couldn't care less about Mario's balloons.

Now in a state bordering on obsession, Mario goes out into the night and into a Turkish bath, where he confronts another friend, an engineer, with his problem.  Dissatisfied with the mechanical analysis offered, Mario goes out into the street again.  This time he winds up in a young people's club filled with raucous music and frantically dancing boys and girls.  Huge bunches of balloons float in the air.

His peculiar behavior causes Mario to be derided by the youths and, enraged, he begins to slash away at the balloons with a pocket knife.  Finally he is subdued and ejected from the club.  Somewhat composed, he phones Giovanna to apologize and tells her he is coming back to the apartment with food for an intimate supper.

While she is setting the table, however, Mario again begins blowing up balloons.  When Giovanna chides him, he becomes furious and drives her from the apartment.  All alone, except for his dog, Mario begins to eat.  But his attention is drawn to an inflated balloon and he turns his attention to his uncompleted task of finding the breaking point.

The balloon bursts and Mario, completely defeated, drops the remnants of the toy and hurls himself out of the window.  Among the curious crowd of on-lookers in the street is the owner of the car on which Mario's body landed.  He is outraged that Mario should damage his car while ending his life. [My Note:  Ugo Tognazzi makes a cameo appearance as the outraged car owner.]

I have never seen a print of the film under this title.  The promotional material uses the following quotes from critics:

"A MEMORABLE, COMPLETELY FASCINATING FILM! I was totally grabbed by director Marco Ferreri's work.  Light and bouncy as a balloon." - Richrad Shickel, LIFE Magazine

"BLOW YOUR MIND WITH THIS ONE! Mastroianni is superb.  It is an absolute joy to watch him work.  The discotheque scene is a knockout, a frantic orgy.  I suggest you do see 'The Man With The Balloons'." - Bob Salmaggi, WINS

"Its perfection of intention and achievement are SIMPLY SUPERB.  Director Marco Ferreri and co-writer Rafael Azcona deserve the highest critical praise as well as the full enjoyment they will surely win from an audience!" - Archer Winston, N.Y. Post

In the June 25, 1968 New York Times, Renata Adler gave the following review, in part:

"[The film] is a dreary, fizzled waste of the talents of Marcello Mastroianni and, for all one knows (she does not have many lines), Catherine Spaak.
...
The rhythm of the film, the way it is cut and put together, is altogether skittish and out of phose-so that it is very hard even to pay attention to what is going on.  The voices and lip movements-as in so many films these days-are out of synchronization, but in this case so drastically that one is relieved to look at the subtitles (the film is in Italian) rather than at the speaker's face. 
...
On the same program, there is an interminable, dreary short called 'Railroaded'."

The film was also reviewed in the July 3, 1968 issue of Variety, which referred to it as "Former segment of three-part Italo-French picture now blown up to featurelength.  Marcello Mastroianni only marquee lure."  The review noted in part:

"This Italo-French import, being distributed in the U.S. and Canada by Sigma III, was originally a shorter version, one of three segments in a 1964 film called 'Oggi, Domani, Doppodomani.'... It's believed director Marco Ferreri originally made it as a feature, but it was reworked by producer Carlo Ponti and wound up as a segment of the three-part film.  Ferreri has now restored the short version into a full-length feature.  The added footage adds little of interest to what really amounts to a short story. ... There is considerable evidence that a new soundtrack has been added for the stretched version as Mastroianni's voice sounds nothing like his films and there is considerable offscreen narration during opening scenes.  Miss Spaak, who manages to look sexy without removing any clothing and while wearing glasses, makes a handsome partner for Mastroianni and their love scenes convey an eroticism that makes today's ultra-nude efforts mild by comparison." The review also refers to some negative comments that Variety made in its 1966 review of the short version (see below).

Finally, Boxoffice reviewed the film in the July 8, 1968 issue, noting that it "is probably one of the strangest films to come out of Italy in recent years."  It further noted that "Mastroianni and Miss Spaak are perfect together, and their scenes of pre-coital sex play have a naturalness and spontaneity about them that is exceptional. ... Audiences will find this subtitled Carlo Ponti production an enigma, and the source of much discussion  It's an unusual tragi-comedy that should cause a great deal of comment and draw a substantial share of the urban, art-house audience."  I have seen no indication that the film received a wide release or that it made much of a splash with audiences.

Here are pictures of the front and back covers of the pressbook:

Promotional material included: a one sheet poster, a 40 x 60 poster, an insert poster, a half sheet poster, a set of lobby cards, a set of stills, and a theatrical trailer.  The only thing on that list that I have ever seen are a lobby card and some of the stills.  Here they are:

















 








 Several of the above scenes do not appear in any version of the movie that I have ever seen, most notably the pictures of Catherine standing in the bathroom. 

Break-Up

I have viewed the version of the film known as Break-Up, released through MGM.  It follows exactly with the synopsis outlined above for The Man With the Balloons and runs 82 minutes, so I expect that it is very similar (if not identical) to that version of the film. 

Upon viewing this film, my first thought was that Ferreri must have been trying to make some point about life, but it was not apparent to me, and I did not want to think so hard in trying to decipher what all of the film's obsessive randomness meant.  I did not find it funny, or even humorous.  It just seemed bizarre.  Then, it occurred to me that the film played out more like a dream for the obsessive-compulsive Mario than anything else.  It seemed so random, and nightmarish, like the type of dream that a stressed-out businessman would have.  Now, hold onto that thought when I discuss the 30-minute version below.

Apparently, Break-Up was merely a long version released outside of the U.S.A. and Canada under some deal between Ponti and MGM (that probably also included a deal for the release of Kiss the Other Sheik in the U.S., see below).  Here are lobby cards that I have often seen referred to as "International" lobby cards, which is the term used for lobby cards printed in the U.S.A. for use in other countries (courtesy of the archives at emovieposter.com).  Note the reference to the film Blow-Up (which was released in 1966).


Shown at the top of this post is a one sheet poster that was apparently used with these lobby cards.  Here is the three-sheet version (from the archives at emovieposter.com).


Here is a French poster using the Break-Up title, as well as a French lobby card:


A Belgian poster:

 
Here is an Argentinian poster (courtesy of the archives at emovieposter.com):

   
I have also seen Australian and Belgian posters using the Break-Up title, but I do not have good images of them at this time.  All of these international posters that use the title Break-Up also reference MGM.

Here are some foreign still likely associated with this release:

A German program:


Some Mexican lobby cards:







Oggi, domani, dopodomani

I have also viewed the truncated, 30-minute version of the film that is the first segment of the three-part omnibus film called Oggi, domani, dopodomani.   I am going to refer to this version as the "short version."  The short version is not merely an edited-down version of Break-Up.  The short version starts with some still photos setting up the candy factory scene, but it quickly cuts to Mario lying in bed asleep with a cover over his eyes and being awakened by his cleaning person's son.  This scene is not in Break-Up, but it at least provides some pretense to support my theory above that this is all just happening in Mario's bad dream.  There are also other scenes in the short version that are a little different than in the long version or are in addition to scenes in the long version.  

I have not tried to catalog all of the differences at this point.  The sequence in which Mario goes to visit the poet and his female friends is not in the short version, nor is the night club sequence shot in color.  In addition, there are various other sequences in Mario's apartment that have been edited out for the short version.  Hold those thoughts for now.  

Ferreri makes a cameo in both the long and short versions, as a patron eating a sandwich in a deli.  Here are three on-set publicity photos to show you what he looks like:


Apparently the poet apartment sequence and the night club sequence were ordered by Ponti at some point in the summer of 1967, or later, to try to save the picture as a feature length film (in his view).  Those sequences included topless nudity that would have been more in line with films being shot in 1967, but not Italian or U.S. films being shot in 1964.  Those scenes were also more in-tune with 1967-era  "mod" films.

Variety, in the May 1, 1968 edition, reported:

"Remember 'Paranoia,' that three-part Marcello Mastroianni film from early 1966, which though made by Carlo Ponti for distribution outside of Italy by Embassy Pictures, was turned down by the latter as 'not a first-class motion picture?' At least these were the words used by Joseph E. Levine in a suit he filed in N.Y. Supreme Court that March-an action eventually settled out of court though the terms were never revealed.  Mystery of why the film was never sold to another distrib. or, indeed, seen outside of Italy has now been solved.  It turns out that last summer Ponti called in the principals involved and shot additional footage of one of the episodes, the one featuring Mastroianni and Pamela Tiffin.  Now of feature length, it was sold to MGM in a single-picture deal after production.  Metro has given it a temporary title, "The Man Who Lost His Memory," though reportedly, it is not too happy with this.  Release in the non-Italian world is expected shortly."

The May 15, 1968 Variety reported:

"A motion picture that came close to joining the 'legion of lost films' has been secured by Sigma III for distribution in the U.S. and Canada.  It's Marco Ferreri's 'L'Uomo dei Cinque Palloncini' (The Man With Five Balloons), which surfaced, briefly, as a sequence in the Italo-French coproduction, 'Oggi, domani, dopodomani' (Today, Tomorrow, and The Day After That), which was known in the U.S. as 'Paranoia,' though not released.

Although the film featured Marcello Mastroianni and Catherine Spaak the previously seen version was around only briefly.  Actually, Ferreri...had made the Matroianni film as a full-length feature.  After it had left his hands it was then reportedly cut drastically and re-edited until it finally resulted in the 'Paranoia' sketch.

Ferreri, four years after the film was made, has reworked it, tinted the original black and white shooting, added two new sequences in color, and dropped the 'Five' from the title.  Sigma III will release it as 'The Man With the Balloons.' There is no definite plan, as of now, for showing this version in Italy as the director believed the earlier aborted version hurt any potential market."

I have been told by a Pamela Tiffin researcher that Tiffin gave interviews at the time indicating that she shot some additional footage for the Kiss the Other Sheik release, so in that regard, the Variety report appears to be accurate.  It's not clear whether the two additional sequences in Ferreri's film were shot in the summer of 1967 at the time that the Tiffin segment was being expanded, or whether Ferreri shot scenes with Mastroianni at some later time.

Variety reviewed the film in the March 30, 1966 issue, calling it a "[d]isappointing episoder."  In regard to the Ferreri segment, it noted that the "[f]irst episode, in black and white, is actually a trimmed-down version of a feature pic directed some time back by Marco Ferreri, but never released. ...It's a puzzling item with some valiant acting by Mastroianni and Catherine Spaak, but the impacts and/or significances are certainly not clear, with a dramatic trimming job adding to the general confusion and tedium."

Here is an Italian trailer for the film:

Here is an Italian poster (notice the picture of Catherine in the towel with a dryer, which is not a scene that actually appears in either version of the movie that I have viewed):
An Italian locandina poster and Italian fotobustas:






Oggi, domani, dopodomani was released in the U.S.A. on July 29, 1968 under the title Kiss the Other Sheik.  HOWEVER, the version released in the U.S.A. did not include the Ferreri segment with Mastroianni/Spaak.  It only included the Mastroianni/Lisi and Mastroianni/Tiffin segments.  Variety reviewed the original Italian version in 1966 and noted a running time of 119 minutes, while the New York Times review of Kiss the Other Sheik on July 30, 1968 lists a running time of 90 minutes (consistent with the excising of the Ferreri segment from the original).  As you can see from the two posters above, Spaak is clearly featured in the Italian release (and Ferreri is listed).  However, the posters, pressbook, and other materials for Kiss the Other Sheik do not refer to Spaak or her segment at all.  The New York Times review discusses only the Mastroianni/Lisi and Mastroianni/Tiffin segments and director Luciano Salce.  There is no mention of Spaak's segment or Marco Ferreri.  Remember, the extended version, The Man With the Balloons, had just premiered in New York on June 24, 1968.  There is still more mystery, however:  The version of Oggi, domani, dopodomani that I have seen runs for just under 96 minutes (not 119 minutes as reviewed in Variety in 1966).  After excising 30 minutes from that version that is attributable to the Spaak segment, then that only leaves a running time of 66 minutes in what I have seen for the other two segments, so where is the additional 23 to 24 minutes of footage to round out the 90-minute running time for Kiss the Other Sheik?

Final Thoughts on Both Versions

Apparently Catherine and Mastroianni got along great on the film, even if she was not too happy about the project itself.  
  • In her 1966 interview with Rex Reed, Catherine commented in regard to Mastroianni:  "I just did a picture with him too.  We had dressing rooms made of two pieces of cardboard.  We'd talk back and forth in our underwear.  Any other Italian would have torn down the wall.  Marcello is a gentleman."
  • In a 2009 interview, when asked about her favorite actors and directors over the course of her career, she specifically stated that she remembers Mastroianni with great pleasure and tenderness and that they had a beautiful friendship.  
  • In a 2007 interview, she remarked that Mastroianni was one of the nicest and most gallant people with whom she had worked, saying that he always treated her with great respect.
I tend to agree with Ponti's assessment that this film project was a mess.  Catherine's performance is typically fine, and she looks lovely.  Interestingly, her role in this film is probably her first in which she is truly presented as a young woman, as opposed to a teenager.  In some respects, The Empty Canvas had already provided her with her first role in which she was more of an adult.  However, in that film, she was still shown as living with her parents and not working, so she still had somewhat of a teen persona.  In this film, she is shown as a young woman that likes to go out and have fun, but nothing particularly points to her being a "teenager."  Her wardrobe, glasses, and general appearance seem to be geared toward making her look a little older than her actual age (which was 18).

On one hand, the premise for the film is too flimsy to make for a good feature-length film.  On the other hand, the short version seems too disjointed and has too many holes in the story.  This is more apparent, I think, for a viewer that has seen the long version.  For that reason, I give a slight edge to the longer version, but I can see where opinions could vary widely on that.

All in all, Catherine fans and Mastroianni fans should probably watch both versions in order to get a better sense of how this project unfolded.  Fans will probably find something to like about the film but will likely not consider it good enough to warrant repeat viewings.  It is certainly not a Spaak classic.  It's more a curiosity than anything else.

As a final bit of trivia about the film, the February 12, 1964 issue of Variety reported that one of the characters involved in the film had sued the makers, claiming that the character was offensive.  I have no idea what that was about or how it turned out.  I have seen no other reporting on that issue.

What a project!

As with all of my blog posts, I will update/revise this post from time to time as additional information and/or images become available.

Here is a Japanese poster for the film (who knows what version!):













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