The Face With Two Left Feet (1979)

THE FACE WITH TWO LEFT FEET is not the best of Commedia all’italiana though it certainly falls into that category even if its at the tail end of the genre’s hay day.  Gianni (Giuseppe Spezia) and his friends work in various positions at the Cavalieri Hilton.  They drudge their way through each work day and enjoy the disco nightlife in Rome.  They play pranks on the stodgy concierge, Caruso, and spend much of their time goofing off.  One day John Travolta calls the hotel to book rooms for his stay.  Star struck Gloria floats through the hotel on cloud nine.

About a half hour into the flick the six friends notice Gianni bears an uncanny resemblance to John Travolta.  After a field trip to SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER Gianni realizes that he just may be able to pull it off.  The friends begin to play a twenty something, screwball Italian versions of Professor Higgins to his Gianni Doolittle.  After recruiting the hotel beautician they transform him into the spitting image of John Travolta.  Blonde beauty Gloria cannot help herself and throws herself on him to fulfill one of fantasies.  Soon, the friends even reference PYGMALION and MY FAIR LADY as they realize he cannot dance and has to be trained in only two days time.  The problem with training Gianni is that he is beyond clumsy and the friends have no hope of teaching him before he unveils his assumed persona at the disco club John’s Fever.

When the transformation takes place the Gianni that was known and adored by his friends has disappeared and a serious and gruff persona has taken his place.  Like many Italian comedies most of the roles are slapstick and all the males play a bit of the buffoon except for the protagonist and antagonist who tend to play their parts straight.  Raoul works as a straight man but a stuffy yet shy hotel cook who looks just like John Travolta makes a hilarious straight man as mad cap events erupt all around him and he seems entirely indifferent to them.  

Of course when the time comes Gianni can disco with the best of them.  He has everyone fooled except for the club’s owner Raoul.  Gianni then becomes part of Raoul’s scheme.  If Gianni appears as John nightly then John’s Fever will be the most popular club in all of Rome.  He’s found his golden ticket and offers Gianni a big cut of the cash.  The only thing Gianni has to do is quit being Gianni and be John.  Raoul even offers up his Ilona, who happens to be his girlfriend, as an incentive.  Gianni must decide who he should be.  Will he deny himself and become John Travolto? Or will he eschew his newly found persona and embrace who he was?

A flick that spends so much time goofing on SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER and its fame should have a hopping disco soundtrack.  I don’t know if it hops, but it is definitely disco.  The acting is on par with Italian comedies of the era.  This may be the only Travoltasploitation flick that Travolta does not star in but in which he actually features.  Spezia is a bit wooden but the character is supposed to be a bit of a dullard.  The only thing that really matters for him is that he looks and dances like he does.  Caruso is brilliant as the fool.  His comedic timing and physical gags are excellent and he has a good look as the fool too.  He is the films compass letting viewers know that it has come full circle with his line from earlier in the film and at the very end: 

“You think I can’t tell the difference between a cook and a Travolta?” 

“With those glasses on you almost look like a cook in our hotel Mr. Travolta.”

The film is presented in AR 1.78:1 widescreen and the transfer looks fantastic showing just a few signs of wear and tear.  There are no special features but there are trailers.  There is the now usual forced trailer for FAMILY HONOR.  Other trailers accessible through the menu are JUST BEFORE DAWN, RAW FORCE, THE VAMPIRES’ NIGHT ORGY, CLASS OF ’74,  and SPLITZ.  It’s available at Code Red’s Big Cartel shop.

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