Blu-ray Review: The Secret of Santa Vittoria - Twilight Time Limited Edition

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Produced and directed by Stanley Kramer, The Secret of Santa Vittoria (1969) is an offbeat study of the residents of the titular Italian town. Set during World War II, just after the fall of Mussolini, it tracks the attempts by Santa Vittoria’s newly-elected mayor to protect the town’s sole moneymaker from the clutches of an advancing Nazi army. That mayor, Italo Bombolini, is portrayed by Anthony Quinn—his outsized performance is the highlight of the film. The town’s cash cow happens to be wine and Nazi commander Seep Von Prum (the excellent Hardy Krüger). The Santa Vittorians have over a million bottles of the stuff and must ban together to protect it.

Though nowhere near one of Stanley Kramer’s better-known films, specialty label Twilight Time has issued the film on Blu-ray for the first time as a limited (3,000 copies) edition. It’s a lower-key creation than, say, the beloved commercial powerhouse It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, but definitely worth seeing for fans of Kramer’s style. Bombolini isn’t the town’s mayor right from the start. In fact, he’s seen as something of an oafish drunk. Only a foolish attempt to erase his pro-Mussolini graffiti from a water tower (foolish because it perches the extreme batophobe in a precariously elevated position) leads to Bombolini’s nomination as mayor. Anna Magnani matches Quinn in charisma as Bombolini’s long-suffering wife.

Secret of Santa Vittoria cover (215x280).jpgTwilight Time’s Blu-ray edition of The Secret of Santa Vittoria does Oscar-nominated (for All That Jazz) cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno’s visuals full justice. Though produced in 1969, this 1080p transfer takes years off the film’s appearance. The Italian scenery is gorgeous to drink in. No complaints regarding the DTS-HD MA mono soundtrack either. The relatively simple sound design is presented in terrific fidelity.

Unfortunately there’s not much in the way of special features. Ernest Gold received an Oscar nomination for his score and it’s presented as a DTS-HD MA 2.0 isolated track. We also get the original theatrical trailer. As usual, Twilight Time in-house film historian Julie Kirgo contributes another thoughtful essay, included in the booklet.

Though perhaps a minor entry in the filmography of legendary director Stanley Kramer, The Secret of Santa Vittoria is nonetheless an interesting film and Twilight Time is to be commended for treating it to a sterling high definition release. For ordering information, while supplies last, visit Screen Archives.

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Chaz Lipp is a Seattle-based freelance writer whose focus is music and film. As “The Other Chad,” he has written for the online magazine Blogcritics since 2008. When he’s not writing, Chaz can be found trolling jazz clubs, attempting to find somewhere to play his sax (whether anyone wants to hear…

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