Giancarlo Giannini in “Seven Beauties” (1976) dir. Lina Wertmuller


Dateline 1976: the Oscars. Peter Finch wins Best Actor for “Network,” which, while a great performance, doesn’t hold a candle to two of the other nominees: Robert DeNiro in “Taxi Driver” and Giancarlo Giannini in “Seven Beauties.” If you put a gun to my head and tell me to pick the better man, I’d smile and say “Giancarlo Giannini.” As much as DeNiro was the bomb in “Taxi Driver,” Giannini (by a hair) blows DeNiro off the screen. (Bobby, relax, you have “Raging Bull” ahead of you).

Holy mackerel, what a great performance in a great film!! No film treads the line between comedy and tragedy better than “Seven Beauties.” Lina Wertmuller was the first woman ever nominated for Best Director, and considering that John Avildsen won it for “Rocky,” she should have taken it. “Seven Beauties” is like Fellini’s “Amarcord” crossed with “Schindler’s List.” The comedy is bawdy (albeit cringe-inducing) and the tragedy, genuinely depressing. The scene where Giannini is sent to a concentration camp with Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” in the background has to rank as one of the most horrific scenes in movie history. “Seven Beauties” is everything “Life is Beautiful” tried to be, but without the mawkishness.

Unfortunately, the best clip I could find of this scene is the English dubbed version. The dubbing isn’t bad, but I always prefer to watch films in their original language.

If you have Netflix streaming, you can watch it for free! Trust me, this is one of the greatest films in film history and once you see it, you will never be the same. The final scene, while ambiguous in meaning, is one of the saddest things you’ll ever see.