Director: Franco Rossi
Code Red Releasing

When it comes to Ornella Muti’s virtue, it’s Vittorio Gassman’s life that’s at stake in Franco Rossi’s rare British/Italian co-production VIRGINITY, out on DVD from Code Red Releasing.

Anthony M. Wilson’s (Vittorio Gassman, THE FORBIDDEN ROOM) is a successful British restaurateur who built up his empire from a single ice cream truck he ran with his mother back when he was Tony Mantuso, a teenage immigrant whose Sicilian father left him and his mother in England and subsequently disappeared. He’s got a string of restaurants around the city and a glamorous mistress Vanessa (Madeleine Hinde, of Robert Harford-Davis’ BLOODSUCKERS), but reminders of his Sicilian roots start cropping up. First a man claiming to be a friend of his father’s drops dead of indigestion in one of his restaurants, and then a Don Gerlando (Antonino Faà di Bruno, AVANTI!) phones him and instructs him to meet an important guest at the airport; little does he know that it’s his gorgeous young cousin Lucia (Ornella Muti, FLASH GORDON) visiting the country for the first time, and that he has been tasked with preserving her virginity (and she’s not going to make it easy for him).

VIRGINITY is not one of Italy’s more salacious sex comedies a la the contemporary oeuvre of Laura Gemser or Gloria Guida; rather, this co-production between Sir Lew Grade’s ITC and Ugo Tucci’s Variety Film (ZOMBIE) falls in with the more teasy, classy ventures along the lines of Steno’s THE BLONDE IN THE BLUE MOVIE deconstructing Italian machismo with a little bit of titillation. Anthony, whose stuffiness does not impress Lucia, refers to Sicily as a backwards place, yet he trades on the traditional and ethnic with his restaurants, and his business dealings metaphorically employ certain ruthless tactics (“We keep strangling them but their necks don’t break” says his attorney of a negotiation to take over a rival restaurant, to which Anthony replies “Throttle them, but do not kill them”). The whole thing does however take on a more sinister turn in the third act capped by a downer that seemed as if it was meant to be a comic punchline.

Seemingly unreleased stateside (probably because of the lack of Muti nudity), VIRGINITY was at least released on cassette in the UK – a pre-cert from Precision, who released a number of ITC titles in the early eighties – and Italy from Cinehollywood. Code Red’s single-layer, progressive transfer of VIRGINITY is sourced from ITC’s open-matte 1.33:1 master. It’s clean and colorful but a tad soft, and there is some chroma noise in the patterns of Gassman's suits. The softness has as much to do with the original mastering as the combination of London fog and additional filtering cinematographer Silvano Ippoliti (ALL LADIES DO IT) used on the English and Italian exteriors. The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track is fine. There are no menus on the disc, the feature plays right after a start-up trailer for FAMILY HONOR and there are no other trailers after the feature. Like other ITV-licensed titles from Code Red and Scorpion Releasing, VIRGINITY is Region 1-coded. (Eric Cotenas)