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  Pretora, La Guilty as sin
Year: 1976
Director: Lucio Fulci
Stars: Edwige Fenech, Raf Luca, Giancarlo Dettori, Mario Maranzana, Carlo Sposito, Walter Valdi, Gianni Agus, Oreste Lionello, Gianni Solaro, Luca Sportelli
Genre: Comedy, SexBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: On his way to court, sleazy businessman Raffaele Esposito (Raf Luca) makes a lewd pass at beautiful Viola Orlando (Edwige Fenech), only to discover she is the magistrate trying his case! As the scourge of pornographers, conmen and crooks, Viola has positioned herself as the absolute moral authority in the town of Bellignano, meaning Raffaele is unlikely to get off lightly for selling dog food as goulash. What no-one knows is Viola has a sexy twin sister, Rosa (Edwige Fenech again), a high class prostitute and porno photo-novel star, with whom a startled Raffaele spends a lusty evening wherein she exhausts him with her marathon lovemaking. He promptly hires Rosa to impersonate Viola and demolish her reputation, leaving Viola torn between enforcing the law or giving up her career and marrying respected aristocrat Count Renato (Giancarlo Dettori).

Long before he was typecast as Italy’s godfather of gore, Lucio Fulci had a string of successful comedies under his belt. While the majority of these remain an acquired taste, La Pretora is of interest because it teams him with the actress who segued seamlessly from queen of the giallo to queen of the sex comedy: the adorable Edwige Fenech. That shrieking, hysterical theme song by Nico Fidenco may suggest otherwise, but La Pretora is actually one of the wittiest Italian sex comedies. Some of the humour is broad enough to make a Carry On film seem subtle but a lot of the snappy satirical barbs hit their target. The subjects were undoubtedly ones close to Fulci’s heart: censorship, civil corruption, morality, bourgeois hypocrisy. He pokes equal fun at the dirty raincoat brigade and the censorious who clamp down hard on sexy movies but often let real social ills slide.

As in most “twin double” movies, the humour stems from situations where the “good” girl is mistaken for the naughty one. Not only does La Pretora feature Edwige looking her loveliest, it provides a meaty script to showcase her considerable comic talents. She nimbly switches between straight laced, steely eyed Viola and vivacious, Minnie Mouse voiced nymphomaniac Rosa - memorably introduced sashaying poolside in skimpy bikini briefs with daisies adorning her nipples. Fulci had no delusions why this film was such a monster hit: “The secret was I showed the public what they wanted to see. While other directors who worked with Miss Fenech just showed her breasts, I let everyone see her completely naked!”

However, the misogyny present in Fulci’s later works is entirely absent. He provides the primarily male audience with the most abundant nudity and sex scenes in any Fenech film (including a hilarious Snow White themed girl-on-girl porno photo shoot!), but lampoons these same men as hapless buffoons whose libido unmasks their moralistic pretensions. Although the conclusion is dishearteningly conservative, Viola’s resolve still enables her to triumph over the cynical schemers and Rosa emerges a far more honest and caring character than we initially suspect, in spite of her uninhibited sex drive.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

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Lucio Fulci  (1927 - 1996)

Italian director whose long career could best be described as patchy, but who was also capable of turning in striking work in the variety of genres he worked in, most notably horror. After working for several years as a screenwriter, he made his debut in 1959 with the comedy The Thieves. Various westerns, musicals and comedies followed, before Fulci courted controversy in his homeland with Beatrice Cenci, a searing attack on the Catholic church.

The 70s and early 80s were marked by slick, hard-hitting thrillers like A Lizard in a Woman's Skin, Don't Torture a Duckling and The Smuggler, while Fulci scored his biggest international success in 1979 with the gruesome Zombie Flesh Eaters. Manhattan Baby, City of the Living Dead, The Beyond and The House by the Cemetery were atmospheric, bloody slices of Gothic horror, and The New York Ripper set a new standard in misogynistic violence. Fulci's last notable film was the truly unique A Cat in the Brain in 1990, a semi-autobiographical, relentlessly gory comedy in which he also starred. Died in 1996 from a diabetic fit after several years of ill-health.

 
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