I’m always a sucker for bad girls in cinema. Give me a Neely O’Hara, a Nomi Malone, heck even a Bette Davis in an awful wig (BEYOND THE FOREST) and I’ll be your film buff for life. It’s no wonder that I fell for Gina Lollobrigida’s character in the delectably bad GO NAKED IN THE WORLD distributed by MGM in 1961. In it she plays Guilietta, a high-priced call girl who loves swinging her curvy derrière and hanging out in hippie joints. When she gets stood up by an old coot one evening she meets handsome Anthony Franciosa who has no idea that she’s a lady of the night. Strange, for you take one look at her and you connect the dots quite easily. But I digress.
When the script calls for them to fall madly in love, loud papa Ernest Borgnine hits the roof and with good reasons. He’s had her many times over, so did his friends and associates. To paraphrase Elizabeth Taylor’s character in the award winning (!) but rival BUTTERFIELD 8 (another MGM film), she’s the slut of all time. When he reveals this to Franciosa, sonny-boy cries liar but soon learns the truth and quickly ends the relationship with Lollobrigida. Miserable as any manly man of the ‘60s can be, he drowns his sorrow in cheap booze and hotels until he decides to face his problem head on. So he kills his dad. No, just kidding, but it’s not that farfetched of an idea since their relationship can only be described as very volatile. Son wants to be his own person, dad wants him to be more like him...
Like I said, Franciosa sobers up. He soon rekindles his relationship with Lollobrigida (he’s in LOVE, people). Before she quits the business she warns him how hard it’ll be for him to get used to the idea of her past life. He acts as if it’s nothing at all but we the spectators know better. Our hunch is quickly confirmed when loud papa shows up in Acapulco where the two have moved to start anew. He bribes Lollobrigida to stay away from his son. She refuses but quickly changes her tune when she realises that, hooking or not, she will always be trouble for Franciosa. So she kills him. Nah, she instead pretends to go back to her old ways. This is the best part of the film. She flirts, she drinks, she dances (she even gets gang-raped off camera) all in the space of a few minutes while Franciosa looks like a kicked dog. Later on, unable to live with herself any longer and all clad in white (wouldn’t you know? repentance), she throws herself into the ocean to forever be with her maker. Anyway, so ends her misery and ours who are this close from running screaming from the room.
GO NAKED IN THE WORLD is based on the Tom T. Chamale’s novel and directed by MILDRED PIERCE screenwriter Ranald McDougall (helped by non-credited Charles Walters). As much as I enjoyed the film, I came away from it with a splitting headache. I blame this mostly on Borgnine’s constant shouting which made me lower the volume on my remote and put on the close captioned. Bombshell Lollobrigida may have top billing for this but it’s Franciosa who carries the film, which is a shame since the whole reason to catch this flick is to see her in action. In fact, she should have put her foot down and convince the high rollers to use her more, like any good sleazy chicks in high-budget films should. Just ask any other celluloid bad girls, Stanwyck, Davis, Taylor. THEY knew how to make the most of it. Judging by the shaking of her bonbon in that next to last scene of the film, I’m sure Lollobrigida could have succeeded just as well. Nonetheless, give this film a try. It has its moments.
Until next post—Martin