Bruce Baillie's "Quick Billy," a one-hour 1971 experimental classic which Filmforum screens tonight at 7:30 at the Wallenboyd Center, takes its title from the film's fourth and final part, a raucous frontier parody done in the style of the early silents, complete with heavy sepia hues and iris fades. The wiry, balding Baillie plays Billy the Kid, who seems to have sex rather than gunfights on his mind.
What precedes this segment is radically different in style and tone. A pinkish blank screen gradually gives way to reflections of sun and finally to fragmented images all in celebration of nature.
Throughout all three sections there are tantalizing glimpses of animals, crashing waves, even people. Part II is devoted mainly to undersea life with a dominance of crustacean forms, and Part III celebrates love-making and birth (both human and animal), which gives way to glimpses of tiny home-movie images of everyday ranch life and a nostalgic series of scrapbook snapshots. Yet, so rich are Baillie's compositions and so constant and layered the flow of his images, his film is constantly kaleidoscopic. The cumulative effect of the film, which is counterpointed with John Adams' sensuous score and an imaginative use of natural sounds, is a soothing, refreshing heightening of the senses. Information: (213) 387-2000, (714) 628-7331.
The UCLA-LACMA "Comedy, Italian Style" series continues with one of the funniest and most famous of all Italian films, and the one which gave this series its title, Pietro Germi's "Divorce--Italian Style" (1961), in which Marcello Mastroianni is a sly Sicilian scheming to get out of his marriage to the zaftig and ever-so-slightly mustached Daniela Rocca. "Divorce--Italian Style" screens Wednesday at 8 p.m. at the County Museum of Art's Bing Theater with a Mario Monicelli gem, "Cops and Robbers" (1951). Toto, with his angular features, and the rotund Aldo Fabrizi show us what great character acting is all about as Fabrizi's cop has a terrible time arresting Toto's petty thief because they've become friends. Information: (213) 857-6201.
More than 30 years ago the Monthly Film Bulletin declared that not even the combined talents of Sophia Loren, Charles Boyer and Marcello Mastroianni could relieve the tedium of Allesandro Blasetti's "Lucky to Be a Woman" (1956), which screens at UCLA Melnitz Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Unfortunately, the observation still holds true, for it is one of those extremely talky Italian comedies that doesn't travel well and puts a real burden on subtitles--even when they're as good as they are here. But it does have Sophia, already La Magnifica and playing pretty close to herself as a young woman whose gloriously statuesque beauty is caught in a sexy candid shot by photographer Mastroianni and sold for a popular magazine cover. Boyer, a suave count, promises to promote Loren's magazine cover into a movie career. At least Loren gets to play a girl always a couple of steps ahead of the men intent on turning her into a star. With bold, angled eyebrows and lightened hair, Loren looks especially glamorous in her cinched waist, long-skirted '50s finery.
Dino Risi's "Poor but Beautiful," which screens after "Lucky to Be a Woman," proves to be a youth comedy as innocuous as those being turned out by Hollywood at the same time and is quite a contrast to the stunningly ironic "Easy Life" (1963) that would establish Risi's international reputation. It's true that Marisa Allasio is more voluptuous than Sandra Dee, and Dee probably never played so fickle a heroine, but otherwise it's very '50s in chasteness. Allasio is a tailor's daughter who's just moved to a shop and apartment in Rome's magnificent Piazza Navona--and Renato Salvatori and Maurizio Arena are two young men, lifelong friends, who live nearby and who become rivals in their pursuit of her. It's very innocent, very talky, but not as tedious as "Lucky to Be a Woman." Allasio went on to appear in Mario Lanza's last film, "Seven Hills of Rome" (1958), but of "Poor but Beautiful's" three stars only Salvatori, who achieved international recognition with Visconti's "Rocco and His Brothers" (1960), is still seen in Italian films from time to time. Information: (213) 825-2345, 825-2581.