"Fallo" is simultaneously the imperative of the verb "fare" (to do), the infraction of a rule, and the name of the male sexual organ (phallus). In reality, the movie is first and foremost the affirmation of female sovereignty in the sense that if the man holds the biological symbol of power, the woman is the one that has her hands not only on the symbol, but on the power itself."
- Tinto Brass
As in Cult Epic's DVD of Cheeky, Tinto Brass appears in a making-of featurette for Private (Fallo!), available on Blu-ray and DVD, and opines on the meaning of the title, proving once again he's a grossly misunderstood master of psychological erotica who happens to like the curves, texture, the refractive sheen, supple texture, muscular tone, and mysterious energy that lies in between the two halves of the female posterior - haunting curvatures of want that symbolizes the inseparable relationship between man and woman, and the mystical attraction of time immemorial that separates the human species from lower mammals as noble creatures full of spirit, and deeds most admirable.
Or perhaps he’s simply the most astute connoisseur of the bare bottom.
Private is Brass in an exceptionally silly mood, and while his titular clarification mostly holds true - the film's men are frequently left holding their 'power' until the women give their blessings - the six stories about jealousy are softcore vignettes augmented by tongue-in-cheek dialogue, and couples seeking mutual satisfaction. The lone exception is the second story (“Double Trouble”) which has the better halves of two couples cheating on their partners, and an actress proving her versatility with a more fleshy studio microphone in a scene that's likely missing from the rated producer's cut (also available separately from Cult Epics on DVD). It's a straightforward moment of on-camera fellatio, whereas the remaining stories have implied fellatio and cunningulus. (The interconnected shower scene, with its starkly phallic piping and bulbous faucets, is also quite graphic. These detailed scenes which contain real male private parts lack English subtitles, although there is the English dub track, which contains coherent but frequently inaccurate translations.)
Brass makes sure each vignette delivers the same manic-obsessive shots of densely forested regions, and the usual groping, poking, and sampling of elements pleasing to delta fetishists. When nudity and specific fixations of the body are omnipresent in a film, there's a level of desensitization that occurs within most viewers, and what manages to shock as we progress through each vignette is the intricate mis-en-scene Brass employs in rendering every shot and edit as interconnected motifs in his ongoing filmic orgy. The wrought-iron bed in the first tale about voyeurism (“Alibi”) has the deliberate curves of the backside, the quasi Art Nouveau decor shapes the doors and windows like fattened phalluses, and distant background objects often yield things like a percolating lava lamp proudly saluting the boffing couple in a burning red room.
The most insane example occurs during a slide presentation in the fifth story (“Evil to Him Who Thinks Evil”). One of the men walks away from the projector, leaving a pyramidal white table supporting the flicking phallic projector. Two women enter, with the guest seating herself on the couch. As her legs kick up in a triangle, it's clear the two chairs flanking the lower 1.78:1 frame on the BR / 1.85:1 frame on the DVD are symbolic legs, the couch is the centre, the bottom-tied pink drapes covering the two windows infer breasts, and the central shadow of a table lamp is another phallic symbol. After the lights are turned on, Brass holds on a projected slide of a group of men around the bare-bottomed wife, and we see a phallic champagne bottle gleaming below the projector. As the husband pulls his hand away from the projector's off switch, Brass cuts to a closer shot of the female guest, spread out in widescreen.
Like Cheeky, Brass is working within a limited budget, but it's grudgingly to his credit that he knows how to pre-plan his film and give each scene production value and thematic power by carefully organizing his set decoration and frame compositions. Private's camera moves are more fluid and competent than some of the awkward shots and tight framing in Cheeky, and like Frivolous Lola, Brass over-stylizes the use of primary and pastel colours: the opening breakfast scene in “Alibi” between a couple celebrating their seventh wedding anniversary in Morocco has them wearing white, primary blue walls and furniture dominate the room, and the couple drink brilliant glasses of a presumably fresh OJ made from neon blood oranges. (The film's end credits list a broad range of countries where the film was shot, but the sets are redressed variations of a mere handful, making one believe Brass was mixing fact with old-style, carny fakery to mask a production shot entirely in an Italian soundstage.)
Brass' taste for burlesque jazz also comes into play throughout the film, and we know Private is a silly piece of erotic fluff because he repeats a series of nutty yodels in the film's third story (“Two Hearts and a Hut”) where a German dominatrix and her collared, “Wunderbar” uttering hubbie settle into a room in the Swiss Alps. Although the director is often seen in cameos smoking a huge cigar – in the sixth tale (“Call Me Pig… I Like It”) he’s a voyeur who pleasures himself across from a busy couple vacationing in London - he transfers that fuming symbol of power to a woman seated at a bar in the fourth tale about jealousy adnd modesty at the beach (“Jolly Bangs”), perhaps a un unsubtle reminder of the power which Brass reckons women have always possessed over men.
Cult Epic's new BR transfer is quite nice, and looks much better than the prior DVD edition. The English and Italian stereo 2.0 soundtrack are very slight, with sound effects being more directional than the score and source music.
The BR’s extras are identical to the 2006 DVD, including still galleries of rated and unrated snapshots; and a making-of featurette that's basically an overlong montage of behind-the scenes props with some occasional comments from Brass and main actresses talking about their characters, during which a grating French language tune plays in an endless loop. The BR contains the cover art which appeared on the DVD’s inlay card – an alternate poster using same the basic geometric design of a scene from Saturn 3 (!) which was reproduced for the laserdisc covers.
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).
Mya Communications have also released Snack Bar Budapest [M] (1988).
© 2006; revised 2013 by Mark R. Hasan