Shoot Loud…Louder, I Don’t Understand (1966) ***

The Raquel Welch picture nobody’s seen. Which is a shame because she demonstrates considerable comedic flair. And there’s a freshness and naturalness – almost a youthful gaucheness – about her that’s lacking in other movies where she was developing her more iconic acting style.

Tania (Raquel Welch) literally bumps into sculptor Alberto (Marcello Mastroianni) when his latest acquisition, an iron gate (locked naturally), blocks a footpath. Intrigued, she enters his Aladdin’s cave of artefacts and is frightened by his mad uncle who communicates via fireworks. With a start like that, you’re either headed for gentle romance between sensible young woman and less sensible artist, the usual on-off on-off scenario, or, this being quirky Italy and the director the even quirkier Eduardo Di Filippo (better known as a playwright – Saturday, Sunday, Monday) it’s going to follow a different route.

While Raquel Welch is for the most part costumed in alluring dresses she does not wear a bikini as in the poster at the top.

And so it does. Alberto thinks he has witnessed the murder of neighbor Amitrano (Paolo Ricci) – blood-soaked glove one clue – but when he confesses it might have been a delusion, something to which he is prone, he is arrested because the dead man was a gangster.  That sets a surreal tone – chairs raining from the sky, anyone?, a coffin full of potatoes, fortune tellers – and for some reason Alberto (who has received a bang on the head) begins to think Tania is also a figment of his imagination.

You can see where that idea came from, the delectable Tania in cleavage-resplendant form wearing dresses with clasps that appear unwilling to do their job. But on the other hand, he is handsome enough, with an artistic beard, and I doubt it would be the first time he had attracted a beautiful woman.

Tania is certainly a character, driving around in a sports car (with pink drapes) that appears to float rather than drive, containing another receptacle for a blood-soaked glove and with hot food in the glove compartment. In fact, she carries around a goodly supply of this local delicacy in case she might feel hungry in a police station or what have you.

Raquel Welch wasn’t girl of the year when this was made but by the time it was released in the USA in 1968 she had made a name for herself, in particular being named Star of the Year by one of the industry’s exhibiting organisations.

There’s certainly a bunch of dream-like sequences. After he finds a bloody knife and bloodied clothes Alberto gets punched on the head by a turbaned man, only to wake momentarily and fan his face with a fan, the kind of imagery Fellini could have dreamed up in his sleep. But this is set against a realistic backdrop, neighbors screaming at each other in the traditional Italian manner.  

So, what we are left with is a perfectly acceptable comedy where Alberto is accused of a crime he didn’t commit but the film might be too Italian for most tastes. This was made before La Welch achieved screen notoriety through the donning of a fur bikini and critics tended to look on Mastroianni (A Place for Lovers, 1968) as a serious actor rather than someone mixed up in this kind of gentle tomfoolery. I thought he was excellent in the role. But that was par for the course here, everyone dismissed.

De Filippo (Ghosts – Italian Style, 1967) didn’t have the kind of critical following ascribed to the likes Fellini and Antonioni so if this fitted into his normal style nobody was aware of it. But I’ve a feeling that this quirkiness was one of his hallmarks.

If you accept it on face value without looking to insert some kind of meaning then it makes perfect sense. As I mentioned, although her voice is dubbed, Raquel Welch (Bandolero, 1968) comes across very well, especially as, despite the enticing attire, she is not required to be all sexed-up or carry the dramatic weight of the tale, unlike the westerns where she is generally an object of lust and continually attempting to assert independence.

Having said that, this is particularly hard to track down, so you might not think it’s worth the bother. But, of course, if you are a Welch completist, nothing will be too much trouble. However, you’ll need to scour the second-hand markets to find a DVD.

Author: Brian Hannan

I am a published author of books about film - over a dozen to my name, the latest being "When Women Ruled Hollywood." As the title of the blog suggests, this is a site devoted to movies of the 1960s but since I go to the movies twice a week - an old-fashioned double-bill of my own choosing - I might occasionally slip in a review of a contemporary picture.

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