The vocal version by Florinda Bolkan of the Ennio Morricone’s classic, retrieved and remastered from the CAM Sugar archive, is a treasure that keeps on giving.
Is there anything that screams 1970s Italy more than a design-savvy, modernist chic set-up table around which debauchery is nonchalantly unwrapped, dish after dish?
Most likely not. And that nonetheless is the ingredient that makes “Metti una a sera a cena” a gem of Italian cinema that keeps fascinating us, watch after watch.
It never was conceived blockbuster (despite ending up being one) nor as an underground extravaganza. But a bourgeoisie drama, with thrilling and erotic hints. Blame it, if you fancy, on the hidden hand of a young Dario Argento, the yet-to-be king of Giallo, in the role of screenwriter.
Florinda Bolkan, 1968. Photo by Giancarlo Botti.
The table is indeed the fulcrum of the story directed by Giuseppe Patroni Griffi, a piece of Italian radical (chic) design around which trajectories of lust, love and psychological deviance revolve.
One of its hosts is Florinda Bolkan, the seductive and enigmatic Brazilian model and actress that became a defining face of late 1960s Italian avant-garde and softcore cinema, but also, as not many people may be aware of, a chanteuse.
Bolkan – discovered by Marina Cicogna, the first female film producer in Europe – was all over the promotional material of the film, including the poster and the artwork for the Ennio Morricone-composed score.
Lounging in her dress by the Mayer atelier (furs by Fendi also make an appearance), sensually pinned on the side only by a series of metal hoops, she became the embodiment of the sophistication of Morricone, but also of the languid charge of its main theme. A bossa nova that seemed to capture the wealth and charme of the Italian bourgeoisie in all of its exuberance at the turn of the decade, in that liminal time between the sexual playfulness of the Swinging London echoes on Rome and Milan and the radicalisation of social life of the soon-to-be Years of Lead.
Florinda Bolkan poses on a Superonda sofa by Archizoom, 1969.
As the Morricone’s track reaches its crescendo, the bourgeois tedium of the characters at play bursts behind closed doors into something forbidden, albeit according to public morality: a threesome, in which homoeroticism is also elusively revealed only by the subtle yet passionate movements of hands.
Emancipation, food and design: perhaps these are the keys that make “Metti una sera a cena” a film that keeps fascinating us, one that remains a benchmark of the Italian taste in matters of style and a manifesto of its intellectuals, like Patroni Griffi. His are the lyrics to the vocal version of Morricone’s theme, masterfully interpreted by Florinda Bolkan. She graces, with the same icy cool, femme fatale-esque edge of a Chelsea Girl-era Nico, the Morricone composition, elevating it to a whole next level of lust and elusiveness.
Whether we may spend hours, around a dinner table ça va sans dire, to discuss which version of the song is the best, what can’t be discussed is the enigmatic voluptuousness of the take, possibly the only one that truly captures the stance of the film. Although it frames an unparalleled season of Italian culture, it has defied time, arriving to us as a still precious, unspoiled gem, like only rare archive finds are.
"Metti una sera a cena" featuring vocals by Florinda Bolkan is part of CAM Sugar's new collection Morricone Segreto Songbook, out on November 10th.
The song, originally issued as a 45rpm on DET, a subsidiary belonging to the CAM Sugar universe, is one of the hardest Morricone recordings to find. That’s why its inclusion in the upcoming Morricone Segreto Songbook enriches the prestige of the collection, making it a must have for all the devotees of the Maestros and those willing to discover his most ‘segreto’ side.
“Metti una sera a cena” by Ennio Morricone featuring vocals by Florinda Bolkan and I Cantori moderni di Alessandro Alessandroni is now out on all digital platforms, anticipating Morricone Segreto Songbook out on November 10th.
Listen to the track and pre-order the album here.