Pasqualino ends up killing one of his sisters' (the beauties) boyfriends, winds up in prison, transfers to the loony bin, and finally escapes by agreeing to enlist in Mussolini's rising Italian army. He's shipped off the the front and quickly captured by the Germans (yeah, they're allies, don't ask) and sentenced to a concentration camp. And yet Pasqualino survives it all, never really succumbing to the horrors that surround him at every turn. Most of the film plays out during his time in the camp, with flashbacks telling us how he got to where he is now. The effect is something like Slaughterhouse-Five.
Seven Beauties is perhaps best remembered for two scenes: First, the opening credits, which plays a unique, jazzy tune about the depravity of humanity, punctuated with the refrain "Oh yeah..." -- which stock photos of Mussolini and other infamous faces and moments from history. And then there's the scene with Pasqualino attempting to coerce his way out of the concentration camp, by seducing a hefty, cruel female guard -- think of her as Ilsa, only really, really disgusting.
Wertmüller pulls out all the stops here, imbuing the film with an epic sense of scope and creating some truly impressive sets on what couldn't have been an enormous budget. Although it has moments of weird color timing, the movie is otherwise technically flawless, a real surprise considering that many of Wertmüller's other movies feel rather slapdash in their construction.
If you're among the many legions of fans who think Roberto Benigni's Life Is Beautiful is the pinnacle of filmmaking, you owe it to yourself to check out Seven Beauties, which clearly influenced it in a major way. That Benigni is nowhere to be found in this film is only the icing on the cake.
Aka Pasqualino Settebellezze.
Run time: 115 mins
In Theaters: Wednesday 21st January 1976
Distributed by: Koch Lorber Films
Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Fresh: 10 Rotten: 1
IMDB: 7.9 / 10
Director: Lina Wertmüller
Producer: Arrigo Colombo, Lina Wertmüller
Screenwriter: Lina Wertmüller
Also starring: Arrigo Colombo