TROPPO FORTE, 1986
Starring: Carlo Verdone, Alberto Sordi, Stella Hall, Mario Brega
Oscar Pettinari (Carlo Verdone) is a deluded young actor from the suburbs of Rome, who in spite of his sensitive character, lack of toughness and the appearance of a Teddy Bear, dreams of becoming the next Rambo, until a chance encounter with a savvy lawyer (Alberto Sordi) changes everything.
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‘Troppo Forte’ is a very funny Italian Comedy by Actor-Writer-Director Carlo Verdone co-written by two legends of Italian Cinema: Sergio Leone and Alberto Sordi. ‘Troppo Forte’ is one of Carlo Verdone’s first films. He represented at the time a new generation of Italian comedians and filmmakers. Verdone directed ‘Troppo Forte’ under the patronage and supervision of Sergio Leone, the director who defined in the mid-1960s that hybrid sub-genre of Western film called Spaghetti Western. It is thanks to Sergio Leone that this unlikely protÈgÈ makes his debut as a director in 1980 with Un Sacco Bello. Under the protective wing of one of the finest among Italian directors of all time he learnt the craft of filmmaking.
In this film Carlo Verdone also takes the baton of Italian comedy directly from its undisputed master, Alberto Sordi, also known as Albertone, probably the most popular and influential Italian Comedian in of the 20th Century. Sordi interpreted some of the funniest films of the post-war era and worked with directors such as Federico Fellini, Luigi Comeincini, Mario Monicelli, Vittorio de Sica and many more. Legend has it that Verdone as a child lived not far from Sordi’s house and grew up in awe of the undisputed King of Itlaian-Comedy (la Commedia all’Italiana).
‘Troppo Forte’ is not considered amongst the best of Verdone’s films, but it is funny and entertaining and it takes the audience back with nostalgia to the Golden Age of Italian Cinema and Cinecitta’, when this cinematic Mecca was synonymous with Dolce Vita and big Hollywood productions, rather than just the location for the current Big Brother house. In the film Carlo Verdone’s character is Oscar Pettinari, a young actor from the suburbs of Rome, in other words a ‘coatto’ – a local tough – who dreams of becoming the next Rambo. Oscar’ s problem is that he lacks the essential toughness required, charisma and that he has the sensitivity and face of a Teddy Bear. He tries to compensate for his lack of natural talent in the chosen career path by trying too hard and by fabricating and embellishing tales of adventurous contributions to classic Hollywood films and improbable chance encounters with big American stars. One day, after an audition and the umpteenth rejection, Oscar meets a savvy lawyer who promises to change his fate around forever. Somehow the eccentric lawyer does change Oscar’s, but in very unexpected ways.
The film contains a number of autobiographical references to both Verdone and Sordi’s early careers. Just like the main character Oscar, they both knew very well the taste of rejection, the humiliation of auditions and for years collected disappointing failures as they both hopelessly dreamt of becoming dramatic actors. Both Verdone and Sordi grew up in awe of Italian post-war cinema, fascinated by its divas, Dolce Vita and the American blockbusters shot around the corner in Rome, in the Italian equivalent of Hollywood Studios, Cinecitta’.
Although ‘Troppo Forte’ might not appear as one of the best films directed by Carlo Verdone, it is a film that marks another step in his independence from Sergio Leone. Leone’s artistic grip on Verdone progressively decreased with the passing years, production after production, as the pupil ‘s ability as a director matured.
The master was so strict with Verdone that on the set of the first film Leone produced for director Verdone, ‘Un Sacco Bello’, he is said to have slapped Carlo on his own set after he didn’t obey an order. Sergio Leone had in fact asked his protÈgÈe to run around the block of a building 3 times, as the scene they were about to film required the character to look dishevelled. Verdone, who starred in the film as well as directing it, got out of the building and instead waited outside for some time before returning on set, unaware of the fact that Leone was observing him for a window all along.
Leone might have imposed a strict training regime on this talented young director, but he has grown as a result into one of today’s most prolific and successful Italian filmmakers. Unfortunately his later films lack the brilliant verve, originality and spark of his early works.