Avanti! is a witty comedy written and directed by Billy Wilder. It is the last pairing of the director with Jack Lemmon before “Buddy, Buddy”(1981), made for the television. The movie follows the trip of arrogant Wendell Armbruster Jr., Jack Lemmon, to Ischia, to pick up the body of his father, Armbruster Sr, killed in a car accident. When he arrives he’s in for a surprise, finding out that his father was not alone in the car. He was with the woman he’s been having an affair with for ten years, every summer when away on holiday in Italy. Her daughter, Pamela Piggott, played by Juliet Mills, has also arrived to pick up her mother’s body. Outraged at first about his discovery, Wendell will soon find out how easily he can follow in his father’s romantic steps.
My favourite character in the movie is Carlo Carlucci (Clive Revill), who excelently portraits the perfect hotel manager, the man who sees, hears and knows everything and who helps his two guests through the whole lot of complications arisen: the bureaucracy, the ransom claimed by the Trotta family whose vineyard had been destroyed by the car, the stealing of the bodies, the interference of the US Ambassador who tries to hurry things up and ship the body of Mr. Armbruster Sr. home just when Pamela and Wendell decide that their parents should remain side by side on the island. The storyline is supported by the superbe scenery: although set in Ischia, most of the exteriors in the movie were shot in Sorrento, Capri and along the Amalfi Coast.
Carlo Carlucci: In Italy, the lunch hour is from one to four.
Wendell Armbruster: Three hours for lunch?
CC: Mr. Armbruster. Here we do not rush to drugstore for chicken sandwich & Coca-Cola. Here, we take our time. We cook our pasta, we sprinkle our Parmigiano, we drink our wine, we make our love…
WA: What do you do in the evening?
CC: In the evening, we go home to our wives.
images: stills from the film