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Film / Scandal in Sorrento

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Scandal in Sorrento (Pane, amore e...) is a 1955 romantic comedy film from Italy, directed by Dino Risi and an uncredited Vittorio De Sica.

De Sica stars as Marshal Antonio Carotenuto, a cheerful, boisterous older fellow recently retired from the Carabinieri (the Italian national police) after a thirty-year career. With nothing else to do, he goes back to his hometown of Sorrento and accepts a job as chief of the local police. Carotenuto, a womanizer but also a lifelong bachelor, goes back home accompanied only by his faithful maid Caramella.

The only problem is that his family home is currently rented by a young widow, the shockingly gorgeous Sofia (Sophia Loren). Sofia does not want to move, so despite the fact that he's old enough to be her father, she starts flirting with Antonio and leading him on in order to get him to extend her lease. Romantic complications ensue in the persons of Sofia's boyfriend Nicolino, who is none too happy with her paying attention to Antonio, and Antonio's landlady Violante, who has fallen in love with him.

Third of four Italian comedies made in the 1950s in which Vittorio De Sica played the character of Marshal Antonio.


  • As You Know: Matteo greets his brother Antonio with "My brother!". And the spiteful lady who runs the rival fishmonger's stand next to Sofia's makes sure to call her the "Merry Widow" to let the audience know that Sofia is a young widow.
  • Be a Whore to Get Your Man: Caramella's express advice to Violante. She pulls off Violante's dress so that Violante is wearing only a slip, says she's got a great figure with nice breasts, and says that if Antonio sees her like that he'll go for her. It works: after Violante lets her hair down and puts on lacy, sexy nightclothes, the two of them are on the floor together as the movie ends.
  • Betty and Veronica: Antonio is captivated by sexy Sofia and barely notices Violante, who is slightly more age appropriate (although she still looks to be at least 15 years younger than he is), who is attractive, and who is besotted with him. This is because Sofia is overtly sexual and also hitting on Antonio in order to get her lease renewed, while Violante is a prim and proper Catholic widow who is having difficulty expressing her feelings.
  • Birth-Death Juxtaposition: Lampshaded. When revisiting his old home Antonio tells Sofia that he was born on the bed where she currently sleeps. Then after seeing a picture of Sofia's late husband in that same room, Antonio the Large Ham says "Life, death, the eternal wheel."
  • The Casanova: Antonio. He's been discharged from the carabinieri at the start of the movie but apparently the real reason that he and Caramella are moving is because he seduced a midwife. In Sorrento his brother Matteo keeps hassling him about both his flirting with Sofia as well as a buxom Swedish tourist who also apparently wants to get with Antonio.
  • Handshake Refusal: After being installed as chief of the local constabulary Antonio is introduced to all the other department heads in city government. He shakes everyone's hand except for the guy in charge of funeral parlors; Antonio makes that guy settle for a salute.
  • Head-Turning Beauty: Local men gawk and occasionally catcall every time Sofia sashays by.
  • Mildly Military: In Italy the carabinieri are organized as a branch of the armed forces, and when Antonio takes charge of the local Sorrento police he seems to want to organize them that way. The cops in his command do a lot of mental eyerolls, and one tells another to humor the boss. Antonio asks a squad leader "What's the news?", expecting an update on the unit, only for the squad leader to shrug and say that he hasn't read the paper.
  • Old Retainer: Caramella, who raised Antonio when he was a child and continues to work for him even now that he's in his fifties.
  • Reluctant Retiree: Antonio is depressed about being forcibly retired from the carabinieri, which is why he goes overboard trying to run the local cops as a paramilitary unit.
  • Running Gag:
    • Violante, evidently trying to protect her floors from being scuffed, makes visitors wear a sort of weird combination between a sandal and a placemat on their feet. This leads to every person who visits having to awkwardly shuffle across the room.
    • Matteo showing up to scold every time he sees Antonio flirting with either Sofia or the hot Swedish tourist renting a house.
  • Servile Snarker: Caramella is thoroughly loyal to her master but that doesn't stop her from snarking at his silliness. When Antonio is grandly pontificating to Sofia about wanting "the kind of love that makes us painters, poets, seamen," she comes in with a box and says "Mr. Seaman, your uniform has arrived."
  • Wrong-Name Outburst: Antonio and Violante are walking down a road with a panoramic view of the harbor and he is pouring on the charm. But when he ruins the mood by accidentally calling her "Sofia", she stalks off in a huff.