Unlike some of his later films, All Ladies Do It has better production values - the cinematography is clean and crisp, with brilliant colours and attractive compositions - and director/co-writer Tinto Brass makes use of some excellent Venetian locations, including an antique shop that houses an immensely detailed room full of d'objects d'art de popo.
This is one of Brass' most satisfying attempts to blend drama with softcore erotica, mostly because the film's lead character makes several risky decisions that affect her marriage, and while she clearly receives pleasure from men from her past and present, a level of guilt ultimately decides whether extramarital adventures (dubbed "happy banging") can cure personal malaise, and are perfectly acceptable diversions for any woman needing a bit of spice in her metered life.
In the included interview, Brass makes the usual broad statements about truth and bottoms, but he declares the film is a philosophical reflection that human beings aren't faithful creatures by nature, and diversions should be the norm in any relationship. That belief is shared by almost everyone in the film except Diana's hubbie, Paolo, who feels she's ruined their intimacy and become a traitor in their once staid marriage.
The original title was inspired by Mozart's opera, Così fan tutte, and in tribute to 'thus do all beautiful women,' Brass has composer Pino Donaggio adapt Mozart's themes for the score, although in a dated hybrid of pop/disco and classical.
The fusion of Venice 's classical beauty is contrasted with the director's preference for primary colours, and the sets are unsurprisingly designed to infer phallic or vaginal geometry. Like Private! all doorways, mirrors, and windows are long, tall, slender, and curved at the top, and whole sets are decorated to resembles legs, breasts or garters (like the lingerie shop, where Diana works and is perfectly okay with her boss' hands-on approach). Even when Diana couples with Paolo, Brass insists on placing a lamp between them, glowing in the background from a swollen ceramic base.
Brass' world is also a weird, sexually permissive Never Neverland: groping at the lingerie shop; making out topless & frontless on a beach under a sunset; and perhaps inspired by the waterside frolicking in Bilitis, Brass shows girls showering and swimming after a sweaty topless workout.
There's also an outdoor disco partee where revelers gyrate and slobber in prominent display. The images are frank, and eventually hubbie Paolo finds his fantasies are also becoming raunchy wet dreams of Diane's macro-photographed crotch (which on a big screen looks like pheromone-intoxicated Triffid, or a promiscuous tumbleweed, depending on one's sensitivities).
The disco finale makes use of an expansive location, and Brass uses a surprising number of dancers, each clad in dated costumes (and some in retro-fifties hairdos), while disco songs with NC-17 lyrics play over the mono soundtrack mix. It's an elongated sequence that quickly evokes the boat orgy in Caligula, and like that sequence, the outdoor partee is one of the best edited pieces in the film - and just as ridiculous. Bottoms jiggle, pickles flip-flop, and Brass deliberately builds visual, aural, and behavioral excess to push Diana towards an overwhelming intoxication, which ignites guilt, sadness, euphoria, and a decision to confront Paolo about their relationship.
Diana's journey also involves a move to a pad once belonging to her aunt, and there she discovers home movies and stills from her aunt's life as a well-to-do prostitute - a subplot perhaps reworked from Pasquale Festa Campanile underrated 1968 sex comedy, La Matriarca / The Libertine, in which a widow discovers her husband's sexual indiscretions at his secret pad through films and stills, but ultimately succumbs to those indulgences and fantasies, and enjoys a successful and enriched relationship at the film's end.
Cult Epic's DVD is very pretty, with a sharp transfer and stable and vibrant colours. There's also a short outtake gallery, and in the chapter-indexed interview, Brass discusses his casting procedures (pretty basic, really, involving a dropped coin, and a moment of oo-la-la), and co-cinematographer Silvano Ippoliti, whose final film this was, after a long career that included Sodom and Gomorrah (1962), Navajo Joe (1966), Sacco and Vanzetti (1971), and a regular association with Brass, including Salon Kitty (1976) and Caligula (1979). The director also talks about actor Franco Branciaroli (who plays an art collector of things pear, parted, and voluminous), and the shorter, unauthorized English versions that were done by his prior distributor. (Cult Epics' DVD is very much uncut, and like all of Brass' films, includes the director's cameo, here seen groping his cast in the lingerie shop.)
Brass would follow-up with P.O. Box Tinto Brass / Fermo posta Tinto Brass (1995), which dealt with the letters from simpatico women who responded to the moral arguments of All Ladies Do It (a film actually inspired by a magazine article about the morality or immorality of infidelity).
Other Tinto Brass releases from Cult Epics include Deadly Sweet / Col cuore in gola (1967), Attraction / The Artful Penetration of Barbara / Nerosubianco (1969), Howl, The / L’hurlo (1970), The Key / La Chiave (1983), Miranda (1985), All Ladies Do It / Così fan tutte (1992), Voyeur, The / L'Uomo che guarda (1994), Frivolous Lola (1998), Cheeky / Trasgredire (2000), and Private / Fallo! (2003).
© 2006 Mark R. Hasan