Love in Four Easy Lessons (1976)

Ursula Andress FestivalSex With a Smile IICountry: Italy
Director: Sergio Martino
Starring: Ursula Andress, Barbara Bouchet, Johnny Dorelli, Aldo Maccione, Alberto Lionello
Writers: Sandro Continenza, Raimondo Vianello
Music: Enrico Simonetti
AKA: Sex With a Smile 2
Original Title: Spogliamoci così senza pudor

I am nothing if not predictable – and it appears, a glutton for punishment. It’s obvious that I have an obsession with Ursula Andress (one that stops only fractionally short of stalking), but recent viewing – The Sensuous Nurse and The Slave Of The Cannibal God – have not been among my my more rewarding film watching experiences. Foolishly, here I am again watching another Italian sex comedy, featuring Andress, this time directed by Sergio Martino – the man behind ‘Cannibal God’. I don’t know what strange force drives me towards these films when I should know better…but…!

Love In Four Easy Lessons, as the title may suggest is comprised of four unrelated segments. Three segments deal with adultery, and the other deals with er,… Soccer!

The first segment is The Detective which features Aldo Maccione as a private detective. This allows him to say, throughout the episode, “I’m a Professional Dick, y’now!” And by the end of the segment, you can’t help but agree with the guy. In the story, he specialises in cases of adultery. When a husband suspects his wife of having an affair, they come to him, and he proves it. Even if the wife isn’t having an affair.

The second story is The Ringer, and for me was the best story of the four. It’s a tale about a ladies soccer team, whose star player injures herself just before the finals. The coach, who stands to collect a 10 million lira bonus if the team wins the next game, makes a deal with a con man friend (Enrico Montesano) of his, to find a replacement. In a variation of Some Like It Hot, the con man takes on the role of female soccer star. This leads to some mildly amusing shower scenes, and a particularly painful conclusion as our cross-dressing hero tries to protect his, er….goal.

The third and weakest story, which features Barbara Bouchet and Alberto Lionello, is The Trojan Wardrobe. The wardrobe in question is delivered to the villa of a rich couple as they head off sailing for the weekend. The groundskeeper allows the delivery guys to place the wardrobe inside the villa. But these delivery guys aren’t your run of the mills delivery guys. In fact they are burglars. And their scheme involves hiding a man inside the wardrobe who can move about the villa freely at night and steal all the valuables. The burglar places the valuables in the wardrobe, and then waits to be collected the next day, when the delivery men return, and claim a mistake has been made, and take back the treasure laden wardrobe. Okay, the scheme is contrived, but in all the caper films I have seen, this scenario seems like a new one.

But naturally, it isn’t all as simple as that. Alberto Lionello doesn’t want to go on a sailing trip with his wife. He has arranged a dirty weekend with a French actress. Before the yacht sets sail, he fakes a telephone call from his office, claiming that there is a problem and he must return to Rome. He does so. Then picks up his French tart and heads back to the house. Meanwhile, the Trojan burglar, has to put back all the items he has stolen before he is discovered. Adding to the convolution, Lionello’s wife, Barbara Bouchet, didn’t go sailing either, and has returned home early.

One Step To Paradise, the final episode features Ursula Andress, and naturally the one I had been waiting for. The tale is actually quite similar to a forties style farce, but with boobs. That is, if you can picture Ursula Andress as a adulterous Katherine Hepburn, and Johnny Dorelli as a libidinal Cary Grant.

The story features Ursula Andress as a lawyer’s wife who is waiting for her secret lover, Johnny Dorelli to meet her for an afternoon in “paradise” on the fourth floor of the apartment building that she lives in. To get past the doorman, Dorelli pretends to be seeing the Notary who lives on the third floor. It just so happens that the Notary had a heart attack and died that morning, and Dorelli is mistaken for a dead man’s long lost bastard son.

I hate to admit this, but I kinda liked Love In Four Easy Lessons. It still is loud, over the top, arms waving Italian humour, with a lot of smutty puns. But at least by breaking it into four stories, the gags aren’t drawn out. Obviously in a production of this kind, there is nudity in it, but the film isn’t particularly sleazy. It is closer in style to a situation comedy. I wouldn’t spend too much time tracking the film down, but it is a pleasant enough diversion for 98 minutes.

To view the Italian trailer: click here

Love in Four Easy Lessons (1976)

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