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Film / The Birds, the Bees and the Italians

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The Birds, the Bees and the Italians ("Signore & Signori", or "Ladies and Gentlemen") is a 1966 film from Italy, directed by Pietro Germi.

It's a sex comedy, dealing with a circle of friends and frenemies in the town of Treviso. The film is divided into three parts:

  • In the first story, Dr. Castellan is visited by his friend Gasparini, who reports that he's been impotent for nearly a year. Dr. Castellan isn't very sympathetic, laughing hysterically. Then everyone goes to a fancy party where the characters are introduced.
  • The second story is about Oswaldo (Gastone Moschin, who played Fanucci in The Godfather Part II), an accountant trapped in an unhappy marriage with Gilda, an awful hectoring shrew of a wife. He starts seeing Milena (Virna Lisi), the lovely cashier at a nearby coffee bar. When his wife finds out and confronts him, he walks out and declares his love for Milena openly.
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  • The third story involves a curvaceous young lady named Alda who arrives in town on the train and is immediately noticed by all the lecherous husbands. She's passed around their circle and is apparently willing to put out for all of them, but the sexy fun time comes to a sudden halt when her outraged father comes to town and announces she's only 15.


  • Anthology Film: It might not technically qualify as a true anthology film because characters are common to all three stories. It still plays out this way, however, with three distinct stories all with a beginning and an end.
  • Brotherhood of Funny Hats: Oswaldo apparently served with the Alpine units of the Italian army, and so he wears their silly feathered hat to a reunion of veterans.
  • Buxom Is Better: All the horny, sleazy men scoping out Alda specifically point out her "gigantic tits".
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  • Call-Back: Oswaldo's only escape from his Awful Wedded Life, before he meets Milena, is to stuff his ears with cotton so he can't hear his wife's carping and insults. At the end of his story, after he finally realizes he's doomed to go back to her, he stuffs his ears with cotton again.
  • Disturbed Doves: All three segments are introduced by shots of pigeons flying up from the main square in Treviso.
  • Downer Ending: Milena gives up and goes away, and Oswaldo is apparently stuck in his awful marriage to Gilda forever.
  • The End: Rather than the "FINE" that one might expect from Italian films of that era, the word "Buonasera" ("good evening") pops up onscreen as the film ends.
  • Gilligan Cut: With narrowing options, Oswaldo hits on the idea of having Milena stay with his mom. He jubilantly says "In this life there's always the mama!" Cut to his outraged mother whacking him with a broomstick and chasing him away from her front door.
  • Henpecked Husband: Poor unfortunate Oswaldo, constantly insulted and belittled and nagged by his shrew of a wife. One scene is a montage of closeups of her mouth as she nags at him. He's developed a habit of stuffing his ears with cotton, so he can escape.
  • Hypocrite: The theme of the second story. Everyone in the group of friends lie to each other and cheat on each other, but Oswaldo openly leaves his wife for his mistress, and that just can't be tolerated. This is most blatantly stated when the police captain tells Oswaldo that they'll drop the adultery charges and he can keep Milena as his mistress, as long as he does it in secret.
  • Interrupted Intimacy: Oswaldo is climbing the stairs to his room, where he's going to have sex with Milena. But just as he's going up his fellow veterans grab him and drag him back to the bar to drink. By the time he finally breaks free he's too drunk to get busy with his girlfriend.
  • Jailbait Taboo: The men in the group are all pretty shocked when they find out that Alda's only 15. They all have to go to court.
  • The Loins Sleep Tonight: Gasparini comes into Dr. Castellan's office claiming he's been impotent for ten months. Eventually subverted, as it turns out that it was a ruse on Gasperini's part, as he wanted to have sex with Castellan's wife.
  • Moral Guardians: Oswaldo is arrested for adultery.
  • The Noun and the Noun: Signore & Signori in the original Italian.
  • Really Gets Around: Before her father shows up, Alda has sex with almost every male member of the cast except for Oswaldo.
  • Sex Comedy: Impotence, affairs, teenaged temptresses, folks crawling behind a screen to have sex at a party, a strip club, a literal roll in the hay...
  • Sexless Marriage: Gasparini says that he and his wife haven't had sex for four years. (He may be lying.)
  • She's Got Legs: More than one closeup of Alda's high-heeled shoes and smooth calves as she walks around town.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: The whole universe, it seems, bands together to keep Oswaldo and Milena apart. He's fired. She's fired. She's kicked out of her rooming house. His wife seizes control of their bank accounts. His mother won't give them a place to stay. They're arrested. Finally, Milena gives up and leaves.
  • Toplessness from the Back: Dr. Castellan's luscious wife Noemi, as she gets into a bath before the party.
  • Wedding Ring Removal: Oswaldo is positively joyful when he takes his wedding ring off and slaps it on the table after walking out on Gilda.
  • You Can Leave Your Hat On: The group of "friends" leaves the party and goes to a strip club. One of the dancers is down to pasties before the women decide they don't like it and leave. (One very drunk wife starts taking her own clothes off.)