Sunday Woman, The (Blu-ray Review)

  • Reviewed by: Stuart Galbraith IV
  • Review Date: Jun 10, 2024
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Sunday Woman, The (Blu-ray Review)


Luigi Comencini

Release Date(s)

1975 (May 2, 2023)


Les Productions Fox Europa (Radiance Films)
  • Film/Program Grade: A-
  • Video Grade: A
  • Audio Grade: A
  • Extras Grade: A

The Sunday Woman (Blu-ray)

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Inaccurately described as an Italian giallo, The Sunday Woman (La donna della domenica, 1975), in fact, is an offbeat character-driven murder mystery that with much dark humor that contrasts working-class detectives with Turin’s frivolous, entitled jet-set. In this sense, the film is closer to the spirit of something like Columbo than your typical giallo.

Garrone (Claudio Gora), a sleazy architect operating on the fringes of Turin’s elite, notorious for his obscene, lascivious bad manners with members of the opposite sex, is murdered in his apartment, his skull smashed in by a colossal marble phallus, “art” not unlike the sculpture so prominent in Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. A blonde woman carrying a distinctive handbag with a starfish design is seen fleeing the scene. Detective Commissioner Salvatore Santamaria (Marcello Mastroianni) is assigned to investigate.

Soon enough, two disgruntled servants, recently fired by beautiful but bored noblewoman Anna Carla Dosio (Jacqueline Bisset, dubbed into Italian) bring to the police a discarded draft of a handwritten letter Dosio wrote to her wealthy friend, Massimo Campi (Jean-Louis Trintignant, likewise dubbed), suggesting they “get rid” of Garrone. Warned by his superior to tread lightly on these entitled suspects, Santamaria learns that Campi, very much in the closet, has a secret gay lover, Lello Riviera (Aldo Reggiani), who works as a clerk in the city planning department.

Clues about the handbag lead Santamaria to the crumbling estate of two elderly sisters, Ines and Virginia Tabusso (Maria Teresa Albani and Lina Volonghi), who are more concerned about getting the police to rid their grounds of prostitutes using the estate for their various rendezvouses.

The tone of The Sunday Woman is unusual. With no empathy for the murdered man, Dosio and Campi are delighted to be regarded as prime suspects in his death and questioned by Santamaria. Further, they find his awkwardness in their upper-class milieu highly amusing. She decides it would be fun to “help” Santamaria solve the case, while Campi becomes increasingly testy around Lello, whose sincere determination to clear his lover simultaneously threatens to out him. The film cleverly exposes the immorality and hypocrisy of these Turinese bourgeoise; one such example is that none of the rich suspects have an alibi, one suggesting the entitled are never expected to have one—that would be gauche.

Though produced with American money held by 20th Century Fox’s European branch, The Sunday Woman’s charms are singularly Italian in nature, particularly the dialogue by commedia all’italiana masters Age (Agenore Incrocci) & (Furio) Scarpelli, screenwriters of numerous Totò comedies but also contributors to films like Leone’s The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Some of this funny dialogue will be lost on non-Italian speakers but much of it still comes through. One scene, for instance, has a detective (Fortunato Cecilia) reporting to Santamaria from a gay bar, using native Sicilian gay slurs hoping the clientele won’t be able to understand him (they do). Many within the supporting cast were actors known primarily for their work in comedies.

Radiance Films presents The Sunday Woman with a choice of aspect ratios: 1.33:1 standard and 1.85:1 widescreen. The reasoning for this seems confused. Apparently, Fox insisted the show be framed for standard exhibition, presumably for TV airings, but it was framed for and definitely exhibited theatrically in 1.85:1 and, moreover, this was pretty much SOP for all non-scope films both in Italy and the U.S. for some time and hardly a special case. Regardless, the 2K transfer from the original camera negative is excellent, with additional color grading and correction done by Radiance, the uncompressed PCM mono track also receiving some fine-tuning by the label. The audio is Italian-only with strong, optional English subtitles. Regions “A” and “B” encoded.

Bountiful supplements consist of a new interview with Italian cinema historian Richard Dyer; an archival interview with cinematographer Lucino Tovoli; a new interview with screenwriter Giacomo Scarpelli, discussing his screenwriter father and his partner; an archival French TV interview with actor Trintignant; a trailer; and a 24-page, full-color booklet featuring essays by Mariangela Sansone and Gérard Legrand.

The Sunday Woman turns out to be a pleasant surprise, a darkly-comic class study/murder mystery quite unlike anything I’ve seen before. Highly Recommended.

- Stuart Galbraith IV