Also known as PURE AS A LILY, VIRGINITY is about a successful London restauranter Anthony M. Wilson (Vittorio Gassman), an Italian immigrant who moved to England from Sicily leaving behind his Italian name Antonio Mantuso after his father had seemingly abandoned he and his mother. Life seems to have turned out pretty good for Tony; he owns several restaurants in London and has a knockout of a lover Vanessa (Madeline Heinde)…even though she is engaged to be married to another man. His uncle is Don Gerlando current head of the family in Palermo and is sending a relative to London and entrusts Anthony to look after her. It is his cousin (so many times removed) Lucia (Ornella Muti) and he is to ensure for her well being and protect her dignity by making sure she maintains her virginity.
This light sex comedy is a British and Italian co-production and includes a good bit of the dry wit and fish out of water that one can expect from a BBC comedy. It also plays up it’s Italian pedigree as the upper middle class protagonist is caught up with his powerful family and the way his life appears to be a satire of manners as he tries to fully embody the English ideal. The young Lucia is a free-spirited teenager who proves to be a handful for the stodgy businessman and he keeps doing his best to curtail her flights of fancy. He even hires a private detective to follow her around. As this adventure with the girl continues, he finds more and more strands of his family’s mafioso lifestyle creeping into his own. He finds out that the sultry young lass is after him and he ends up marrying her. She begins to run his restaurants while he is de facto owner, Anthony prefers to spend his time at leisure. This is well enough because now the family has a good entry point and cover for whatever they may decide to export to England.
VIRGINITY is a fish out of water tale, that British and Italian comedy styles lend themselves to, about an immigrant who has not quite fit in despite years of effort. Gassman does quite well in this role and Muti is fantastic as the dry witted Lucia. Alas, this is a role where she remains securely clothed but no less alluring to be sure. Antonio’s family is also a hoot when we see how they interact back in Sicily. The locations and settings used all look great and the mid 1970s London is always a welcome site.
The Code Red DVD is pretty bare bones with a forced trailer for FAMILY HONOR which leads straight into the feature. There is no menu. The picture quality is excellent and sound is good as well. Fans of light comedy will enjoy VIRGINITY and it makes a good partner to THE FACE WITH TWO LEFT FEET for an Italo-comedy movie night. Not everyone’s cup of tea but another acceptable entry int the Code Red catalog. The DVD is Region 1 and is available at Code Red’s Big Cartel webshop.