Racconti proibiti... di niente vestiti [Master Of Love] (1972) May 6, 2021 08:00
If films could produce offspring, Master Of Love would be the love child of two other Italian comedies with brief appearances from Barbara Bouchet, The Golden Ass and Nights And Loves Of Don Juan. So it's not too surprising that this averages out somewhere between the two.
Master Of Love follows notorious ladies man Lorenzo del Cambio (Rossano Brazzi) as he attempts to win a bet to bed the only woman in the land who is desired by all men, Lucrezia degli Uberti (Barbara Bouchet), but who refuses the advances of them all. Along the way he recounts tales of passion and disaster to a young man whose "aristocratic" parents request Lorenzo take him on his journey that he may introduce him to the ways of the world with the hopes of "curing" their son of his introversion, and his obsession with art and poetry, to become more interested in the fairer sex and maintain their family lineage.
On paper Master Of Love has a fair share of notable credits. Written and directed by Brunello Rondi, a contributing writer on the Italian classic La Dolce Vita and wrote the screenplay for 8 1/2, he also wrote and directed Valeria dentro e fuori, a solid Barbara Bouchet led drama. Throw in classic Italian actor Rossano Brazzi, and a buffet of gorgeous actresses from all over the globe and this film should have been pretty good.
For me the major issue with the film is Rondi turned the meat of the story into a anthology made up of lackluster semi-erotic tales. A couple were mildly amusing, but a majority didn't make a whole lot of sense, perhaps the comedy was simply lost in translation. What this format ultimately manages to do is waste the best aspect of the film, Rossano Brazzi, by reducing him to a narrator when he IS the comedic relief of a lukewarm story.
The only thing that made most of the tales palatable was the eye candy provided by the rotating cast of actresses such as Swedish actress Janet Agren, French actress Tina Aumont, Italian actress Silvia Monti, German actress Karin Schubert, and of course Barbara Bouchet.
Bouchet plays Lucrezia the ultimate conquest for Lorenzo, and is hinted at throughout the film as the unnamed infatuation of his young companion, but this is bizarrely tossed away at the end of the film when the two finally meet Lucrezia. The young man says "that's her" but when they discover she's radically religious to the point she's whipping herself as some sort of purity ritual she's suddenly not of interest to either of them anymore. Lorenzo is ready to turn tail and return home but decides to follow through with his pursuit of her after a brief ribbing from his travelling companion.
The brief encounter between Lorenzo and Lucrezia is probably the funniest part of the film as Lorenzo pretends to be a radical disciple as well, follows her into a field where she's being whipped for her sins by a young guy. There she's complaining about how he's not whipping her hard enough and Lorenzo intervenes to show him how it's done. The film then ends in a bizarre twist with Lorenzo's young companion taking his place as the new "Master Of Love" and Lorenzo wandering off into the wilderness to die, his final conquest being a very sexy looking woman whose supposed to be death.
Overall, I think the film would be been more entertaining and stayed on course if the tales evolved Lorenzo, perhaps recounting of his former conquests, instead of him simply being the person narrating stories he had no involvement in. This would have made the main plot feel less choppy and confusing. In the end, Master Of Love, is a middle of the road Italian comedy, saved by the acting of Rossano Brazzi, and the amazing female cast. If you're looking for a film that may introduce you to some lovely actresses that could lead you down the rabbit hole of Italian cult cinema then there may be some value here, it's simply too bad they weren't better utilized in a more cohesive story.