WEDDINGS AND BABIES
(director/writer: Morris Engel; screenwriters: story by Morris Engel/Mary-Madeleine Lanphier/Blanche Hanalis/ Irving Sunasky; cinematographer: Morris Engel; editors: Michael Alexander/Stan Russell; music: Eddy Manson; cast: Viveca Lindfors (Bea), John Myhers (Al Capetti), Chiarina Barile (Mama), Leonard Elliott (Ken), Gabriel Kohn (Carl), Kristoffer Tabori (Tony), Joanna Merlin (Josie), Mary Faranda (Herself); Runtime: 81; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Morris Engel; Kino; 1958)
“Engaging NYC realistic slice of life shoestring indie drama.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Another engaging NYC realistic slice of life shoestring indie drama by director, writer, producer and photographer Morris Engel, a former still photographer, who previously won viewer’s hearts with his Little Fugitive (53) and Lovers and Lollipops (55). This emotionally candid bittersweet love story was shot on location in New York’s Little Italy. It won the Critics Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
The 35-year-old Italian-American commercial still photographer Al Capetti (John Myhers) specializes in wedding and baby pictures. His model/assistant and live-in girlfriend for the last three years is the Swedish-American beauty Bea (Viveca Lindfors), who just turned 30 and is upset with Al for delaying their marriage. Ambitious to move into the movie business, the immature and self-absorbed Al buys an expensive camera with his meager savings and upsets Bea by not confiding in her. Bea wants a husband, babies and a stable home; while Al doesn’t want that responsibility and aspires only to advance his career. When Al’s elderly, old-fashioned and slightly mentally disturbed non-English speaking mom (Chiarina Barile) shows up in his modest store-front studio, where he also lives with Bea, after having been evicted for accidentally setting a fire to her boardinghouse for the fifth time, he places her in a home for the aged run by the sisters in the Bronx. Meanwhile Al is shooting the street festival in his Little Italy neighborhood and has to wrestle with the decision whether to marry Bea or not, as she threatens to leave him. He finally agrees and with a group of neighborhood friends celebrates Bea’s thirtieth birthday at his studio. But during the course of this happy day things sour when the party is ruined by a ham actor friend (Leonard Elliott) who steals the limelight away from Al during the celebration, his mother leaves the nursing home and is lost, and he accidentally breaks his expensive new camera. Al drives Bea and the divorced actor’s active child Tony (Kristoffer Tabori, the real-life son of Viveca Lindfors), someone Bea can’t resist, to the Staten Island cemetery, where Al’s mom is found at her husband’s graveside. Bea is not pleased with the cold way Al acts, even though she knows he loves her, and thinks again whether she wants to marry him or move on to find her dreams.
The ambitious innovative and influential indie, was the first full-length movie to be shot with a portable camera that had a synchronous sound attachment (created by Engels).
REVIEWED ON 5/30/2008 GRADE: B+