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“Baltimore industrialist Wendell Armbruster crosses paths with London shop girl Pamela Piggott when they come to Ischia to pick up the bodies of her mother and his father, who have been killed in an automobile accident after a ten-year summertime affair. Straitlaced Wendell tries to avoid a scandal while free-spirited Pamela is impressed by the romantic setting. After some confusion with the bodies and a blackmail attempt by unscrupulous locals, Wendell and Pamela extend their parent’s affair into the next generation.” via IMDB
Before this week, I had never even heard of this movie, called Avanti! (circa 1972). I know of actor Jack Lemmon; I’ve seen a few of his older movies & TV shows in the past (eg. The Odd Couple with fellow actor Walter Mathau). I know little of actress Juliet Mills. If I hadn’t “Google searched” her name, I would not have immediately recognized her. I only remember her from her days on a long-ago cancelled daytime American TV soap opera, & as the wife of fellow actor Maxwell Caulfield (whom I only recognize from the movies Grease 2 & Empire Records). I just happened to stumble upon this movie one evening while I was channel surfing on my bedroom TV. I often enjoy watching the classic movie channels, & sometimes I’ll uncover a real winner…like this one.
In just this one week alone, I’ve already watched this movie THREE TIMES. Yes, I understand that I sound like a crazy person, but I really, truly enjoyed this movie, & found it to be quite romantic even though some may argue that this movie glorifies & beautifies the act of openly & freely committing adultery. I choose to look past the sordid details of adultery & focus on the budding romance between the two main characters Wendell Armbruster Jr. & Pamela Piggott. I can’t quite understand how a man, back in those days, could go on vacation to Italy for one moth every year for ten years without his family, & it doesn’t raise any red flags. I get that in the movie, it was mentioned that the main male character’s father had health issues & was visiting the Italian hotel to relax & relieve his ailments. However, staying in Italy for ONE MONTH, alone? If I were the wife of Mr. Armbruster Sr., I’d tell him to take the kids with him. I need a vacation too. [laughs]
There were definite parts of the movie that I enjoyed the most. I really liked how, through the course of the movie, Jack Lemmon’s character Wendell Jr. has a change of attitude & a change of heart toward’s Juliet Mills’ character Pamela. Jack’s character is at first cold, surly & impatient.
“Look, Miss. On a train, or on a boat, there’s nothing I can do about it. But when you come barging into my room…” – Wendell Armbruster Jr.
“I thought maybe tonight we’d do something different…our thing.” – Wendell Armbruster Jr.
However, Juliet’s free-spirited & happy-go-lucky character slowly thaws his icy heart & slows his quick-tempered pace. Eventually, the two main characters grow to enjoy each other’s company & build a relationship without immediately realizing it. My most favorite scene(s) of the movie has to do with Juliet’s character Pamela Piggott. I absolutely LOVE that Pamela shows a little vulnerability & sensitivity toward her not-so-slim figure (a.k.a. her weight), yet she is able to keep a sense of humor about it all. Through the course of the movie, Pamela becomes increasingly confident about her voluptuousness. I wish I could be as confident about my body as Pamela is about her own body.
“I’ve been called plump. I’ve been called pudgy. I’ve been called chubby. But I’ve never been called fat…ass.” – Pamela Piggott
“Mrs. Armbruster, just to put your mind at rest, you needn’t be worried one bit, because if you saw me, I’m short, I’m fat, & I’m not very attractive. OK?” – Pamela Piggott
Besides the two main characters, there are a few other colorful characters worth mentioning…such as:
1. Carlo Carlucci, the charming, witty & quick-thinking hotel manager
2. Bruno, the cheeky valet with a penchant for taking raunchy photographs
3. Anna, the mustachioed housekeeper with a trigger finger & an unrequited passion for Bruno (Throughout the movie, I thought this character was played by an effeminate man, only to discover that she really was a woman…Oops!)
This movie starts off rather cold, with Wendell Jr. desperately trying to keep Pamela quiet about their parents’ love affair. Wendell sees the affair as a sordid black mark on his well-respected & high-profile father’s life, while Pamela only sees the pure & genuine love the two shared between each other. After spending a night of reliving their parents’ past, the two warm up to each other & start to really see things the way their parents saw things when they were together at the hotel. One of my favorite lines from this particular part of the movie comes after the pair decide to take a morning swim in their birthday suits (& a pair of black socks…because some people are in mourning.)
“Well here we are…basking like two baby seals…” – Wendell Armbruster Jr.
The hotel is very beautiful, & I wish it were a real place that I could visit. All of the rooms seem quite luxurious, & I would love to have a cocktail (or two) at the bar & enjoy a meal of Duck à L’Orange with a side of pasta (perhaps green, for color).
And now, we come to the end of the movie. It’s time for Wendell to wrap up business in Italy. After all, he was there to claim his deceased father’s corpse & rush to a hasty funeral, not to fall in love with his father’s mistress’ daughter. The whole time in Italy, Wendell is cursing his father for having a ten-year secret love affair. All the while, Pamela is just happy that her mother was happily in love (whether her mother’s lover was married or not did not phase her at all). My final favorite scene in the movie was when Wendell asks Pamela about her mother. He asks her, in a roundabout way, if she was a kept woman. Pamela assures him that her mother was not receiving gifts from his father. Her mother was a working woman who paid her own way in life. Her mother never wanted money or gifts from Wendell’s wealthy father. She only wanted his love.
“I told you the first day, she loved him. She didn’t want any tips.” – Pamela Piggott
Isn’t it rather romantic (
& a lot of Hollywood movie magic) that the son & daughter of the two former lovers end up falling in love with each other, & carry on the romance their parents once held at that very same hotel? Of course a storyline like that only happens on extremely rare occasions & in flashy Hollywood movie scripts. However, I quite enjoyed the storyline all the same. I guess you could say that I am in love with LOVE. I am a sucker for a sappy good romance. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, & believe it or not…most likely you will…I was watching this movie yet again, simultaneously while writing this blog post…and NO. I am not going to watch this movie after I finish this post. Cheers.
Today’s song of the day:
“I’m Glad There Is You” by Oscar Peterson