The wild and wooly tale of a small Italian town with a robust winemaking industry dealing with the fall of Mussolini and the imminent arrival of Nazi overlords near the end of WWII, this film was one of Kramer's few projects with strong comedic elements. The "secret" of the title is of course the huge stash of wine in the town and the central plot drive is about how the town and its kooky residents hide the vino from the greedy German occupiers. Kramer's vaunted social conscience has a harder time making its presence known in a film like this, but he still gets his licks in. THE SECRET OF SANTA VITTORIA had the misfortune of opening right after EASY RIDER in 1969 and was a bomb at the box office. Sound is delivered via a nicely balanced mono DTS-HD Master Audio track that keeps the dialog clear and centered while providing decent oomph for the robust score. While far from Kramer's best film, THE SECRET OF SANTA VITTORIA is a lot of fun and a must for Anthony Quinn fans. All content is copyright 2010-2015 its respective authors and is not to be reproduced without permission. To save the long-term future of their village, the people in the Italian village of Santa Vittoria decide to hide over a million bottles of their famous (and expensive) wine from the occupying Nazis. Customer service (Mary Pat on telephone and 'live chat' helped me with any questions I had ) was fabulous. Films like THE DEFIANT ONES, GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER, ON THE BEACH and JUDGEMENT AT NUREMBERG didn't exactly traffic in subtlety.


Anthony Quinn of ZORBA THE GREEK fame toplines an impressive cast which also includes Anna Magani and Hardy Kruger. This makes for a fair amount of slapstick throughout the film, and in star Quinn, Kramer had an ideal match for this material. The film is really a love letter to the regular people who keep things running in the face of oppression. Audiences were ready for edgier fare, and an old-fashioned romp like this wasn't going to be an easy sell at the dawn of the "new" Hollywood. Having had good success with previous posters, we were wondering how this metal print was going to turn out and we must say the result is absolutely stellar! Whether dealing with racism, the possibility of nuclear holocaust or Nazi war criminals, Kramer's films tended to draw their themes in broad strokes often laced with melodrama. Quinn plays town buffoon Bombolini - a boozy but fun local character who spends most of his time either entertaining the town's eccentric residents with his antics or suffering the shrewish nagging of his wife (Magani).
Quinn was one of the great stars of Hollywood but he was also a born ham almost genetically incapable of subtlety. The working class is king here - and infinitely more clever than those evil aristocratic Nazis. While GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER had been a massive hit for Kramer just a couple of years earlier, the failure of VITTORIA effectively put an end to the man's big budget career.


When news reached the small hamlet that Mussolini has been ousted, everyone starts prematurely celebrating. Whether climbing a clock tower to frantically erase a pro-Mussolini message despite his deep fear of heights, or just spinning lies to divert probing Nazis, Quinn's Bombolini is always fun to watch.
The noble wounded proletariat soldier trope gets played in the film as well, but it works reasonably enough. Regular Twilight Time scribe Julie Kirgo contributes liner notes to a full color insert booklet that offer up some insight and information about the history of the picture. The great Italian actor Giancarlo Giannini is also present as a townsperson who helps Bombolini gin up some courage during the clock tower escapade.
Power abhors a vacuum and the Nazis will soon step in to assert control of their floundering ally Italy. And when they arrive in Bombolini and friends' neighborhood in the form of German officer Sepp Von Prum (Kruger), it is suddenly up to the town eccentric to save them.




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