Friday, April 28, 2017

Toto Dances

For some reason, the following film clip has given me a lot of pleasure over the past couple of weeks. It is from a 1962 Italian comedy film, Toto di Notte No 1.  Which translates into English as Toto's First Night.  The clip features the main protagonist, Nini (played by the titular Toto) dancing the twist with a waitress in a Spanish taverna:

Toto, the professional name of Antonio Clemente, was a hugely popular Italian comedian, who appeared in 97 films between 1937 and 1968, his last appearance being posthumous, having filmed his role in the anthology film Caprice Italian Style, before his death in 1967. 

Toto di Notte No 1 comes from the latter part of his career and co-stars Erminio Macario - who often appeared with Toto - as his sidekick, Mimi.  Thanks to the vagaries of online translation services, its plot remains somewhat obscure to me.  As far as I can make out, it concerns two double bass playing buskers in Rome, Nini and Mimi, one of whom comes, unexpectedly into money.  Nini decides that it would be a good idea to spend the money touring various foreign nightclubs and musical venues, in order to try and find somewhere that their talents recognised.  In practice, this means that the film effectively turns into a series of comic sketches, partly poking fun at various national stereotypes, partly acting as opportunities for Toto to perform his various routines. I've seen several excerpts from the movie, which involve a fair amount of slapstick humour, much of it not dissimilar to the sort of stuff that Laurel and Hardy got up to in their films, (Macario, naturally, falls into the Stan Laurel role of naive sidekick to Toto's more bombastic and domineering Oliver Hardy-like Nini).

Quite why this particular sequence has fascinated and entertained me so much, I cannot say.  But there's just something about it I find irresistible.  Perhaps it is just the pure, unalloyed joy exhibited by everyone present in it.  Who knows.  Interestingly, as far as I can make out, this wasn't considered one of Toto's best films at the time of its release and the main characters and some of the scenarios were recycled a couple of years later for Toto Sexy, which proved far more popular.



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