Ubalda, All Naked And Warm Review
There’s not much chance of anyone mistaking the latest release from the US distributor of cult Italian cinema for one of their more esoteric arthouse films. Ubalda, All Naked And Warm is indeed little more than a tawdry Italian sex comedy and, with a lot of slapstick comedy, scatological humour and sexually frustrated men salivating over beautiful half-naked women, it has little pretensions to be anything else. With expectations accordingly adjusted, and the striking presence of Edwige Fenech, the glamorous French actress of Italian erotica and giallo fame, Ubalda, All Naked And Warm can at least be relied upon to live up to its own limited ambitions.
Taking its inspiration from the bawdy Renaissance setting of Boccaccio’s Decameron, or more specifically from Pier Paolo Pasolini’s successful film adaptations of The Decameron (1971) and Canterbury Tales (1972), Ubalda, All Naked And Warm plays upon the bawdy aspects of its Medieval setting for all it worth. After fighting for six months, a rather battered and horny knight, Olimpio De’ Pannocchieschi (Pippo Franco) is looking forward to getting home to the town of Watchthehole and into bed with his wife Fiamma (Karin Schubert), whose purity he is sure of on account of the chastity belt she has been wearing in his absence. However it seems that half the town has their own copy of the key that gives access to the lady’s charms.
To keep her newly returned husband at bay while she entertains her string of lovers, Fiamma sends Olimpio off to make peace with his rival, the miller Oderisi (Umberto D'Orsi), who he has been in dispute with for many years over a stream that runs through their lands. Believing that Oderisi’s temperament might have mellowed now that he has married the young and beautiful Lady Ubalda (Edwige Fenech), Olimpio sets off with a lawyer to negotiate, but finds that the miller is perhaps the only man in town who isn’t getting any pleasure from his wife, and he too is mightily frustrated. And who can blame him? When he sets eyes on the beautiful Ubalda, Olimpio too is smitten and attempts all kinds of ruses to get her undressed.
With Olimpio being the clumsy type, there is inevitably a lot of slapstick flailing around and bumping into things in his various attempts to put an end to his “six months of abstinence and not even a goat”. His frustration at being unable to put a hand on the various semi-naked women who cross his path – even a travelling monk gets more action than he does - and a severe knock on the head culminate in a centrepiece dream sequence where Olimpio chases Ubalda, naked but for her chastity belt, through a golden sunlit field, in no apparent hurry to catch up with her as she romps through the wildflowers – in slow motion. Truly, Edwige Fenech is a sight to behold in all her natural beauty.
In this respect, Ubalda, All Naked And Warm delivers everything the title promises – and then some - but it’s rather less entertaining as a comedy. The humour relies heavily on slapstick, juvenile scatological humour, puns and double entendres, few of which translate well into English, and from my own limited knowledge of Italian, they are not particularly funny in the original either. It’s all very Benny Hill – swapping smirking English innuendo for a rather more direct ridiculing of Italian Catholic notions of chastity - and it’s consequently very politically incorrect, but essentially harmless. If however you have no objection to seeing a lot of beautiful European actresses running around half-naked, chased by drooling, sexually frustrated men, then this comes highly recommended.
Ubalda, All Naked And Warm is released in the US by NoShame. The disc is in NTSC format and is not region coded.
As ever - even in the case of a cheap sex comedy - NoShame have sought out the best elements available and struck their transfer of Ubalda, All Naked And Warm from the original negative. Presented anamorphically at the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio in a progressive transfer, the image is of excellent quality with not a flaw or mark to be seen anywhere. There are one or two instances of shifting backgrounds due to macro-compression artefacting, but your attention is likely to be elsewhere in the frame and not looking for such problems. The image is clear, sharp and colourful throughout, although the reds are possibly a little over-boosted. Otherwise, this is about as good as you could possibly imagine the film could look.
The original mono audio track is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 and again it’s just about as good as the film would have originally have sounded. There is nothing more troublesome here than a little crackle at the edges and some low-level analogue noise.
English subtitles are provided in a white font and are optional.
As ever, NoShame have made every effort to provide appropriate and interesting extra features. A new Interview with Edwige Fenech (7:42) (still looking fabulous) doesn’t say much about the film itself, but she talks about her ability to work in the comedy and giallo genres, about being originally cast as La Gradisca on Fellini’s Amarcord, and her meeting with Quentin Tarantino. Giving you more boobs for your buck, NoShame present a trailer reel of Edwige Fenech’s Sexy Comedy (10:39) showing her in her role of the ‘Sexy Schoolteacher’ for the L’Insegnante series of films, where she seems to be frequently peeked at by young schoolboys when she is having a shower. Edwige’s greatest …er …bits as Ubalda are handily gathered in a 3-minute Edwige’s Groovy Sexadelic Reel (2:51) (whoever compiled this truly has “No Shame”), where they are subjected to unnecessary psychedelic lighting effects and music. The Original Theatrical Trailer (3:39) is also included.
I don’t think that anyone who has even a passing familiarity with British sex comedies of the 70s will be surprised to find that their Italian counterparts are no different, offering little more in the way of either sex or comedy. They do however have the advantage of some rather more alluring European actresses like Edwige Fenech and Karin Schubert, whose presence and lack of clothes in Ubalda, All Naked And Warm will I imagine make up for the film’s comedic shortcomings. You wouldn’t think that the quality of the DVD would really matter that much here, but NoShame have nevertheless given the film a much better treatment that it deserves, striking a brand new print from the original negative and giving it an impressive transfer that, in a few scenes at least and from this viewer’s perspective, is a treat for the eyes.
Last updated: 03/03/2018 14:16:35