"The Witch Burnt Alive"
After a very long, but visually arresting animated opening credits sequence, Luchino Visconti (Death in Venice) directs the first story, which is the longest of the five, taking approximately a third of the film's running length. Mangano plays a superstar actress and model who travels to a mountain resort, only to find the well-to-do inhabitants have pre...
"The Witch Burnt Alive"
After a very long, but visually arresting animated opening credits sequence, Luchino Visconti (Death in Venice) directs the first story, which is the longest of the five, taking approximately a third of the film's running length. Mangano plays a superstar actress and model who travels to a mountain resort, only to find the well-to-do inhabitants have prejudices and preconceived notions about her based on her public persona. The women are all jealous and the men all want to sleep with her, but all Mangano wants is to be left alone. It's a mostly somber satirical piece, but story-wise, it languishes in its modest idea a bit long, becoming inconsequential to all but those fascinated by the realities of being famous.
Bolognini's piece isn't really a story. It's more of a visual gag, in a short segment that features Mangano offering to take an injured man to a hospital, driving him at breakneck speed throughout the city, but not stopping at locations where he might find aid. I won't give away the punchline here, but it succeeds in being amusing, even if it's the kind of thing that only is interesting the first time through.
"The Earth Seen from the Moon"
The esteemed writer/director, Pier Paolo Pasolini (Salo), crafts the middle segment, which is the most artistic and memorable of the five. Reminiscent in style to "Don Quixote", a recently widowed father and his son travel around the country in search of a new wife and mother, and after a long period, they discover the literally speechless Mangano. She brings joy into their lives, but they are poor, and in order to find a better life for themselves, they concoct a scheme to try to make some quick cash. The story is contrived, and not completely interesting, but the outlandish performances, artwork, and costumes does evoke great charm and likeability. Although mute, it's probably the most appealing of Mangano's five performances, and Toto is terrific.
Franco Rossi directs the fourth an shortest piece, a straight-forward revenge story that comes and goes before it ever has a chance of becoming interesting. It's violent, but easily the least satisfying of the five stories.
"A Night Like Any Other"
Eastwood's appearance is clearly the biggest attraction here, which was filmed in between the Sergio Leone "Dollars" trilogy. It's an enjoyable departure from his normal roles, playing a comedic romantic lead, and he is affably fun to watch. Famed Italian director, Vittorio de Sica (The Bicycle Thief, Umberto D.) does a masterful job with the story, which perfectly blends the mundane and the fantasy in a visually satisfying way. The story is about a bored housewife (Mangano, of course), who tries in vain to get her husband to realize that he is not as romantic as he used to be. The scene is interspersed with comedic romance sequences revolving around the couple's past romantic interludes, and dreams of how their lives should be.