(aka. L'INFERMIERA, SECRETS OF A SENSUOUS NURSE,WILL IF YOU WILL, THE NURSE)
REVIEW BY-DEVIN KELLY
CAST: Ursula Andress, Duilio Del Prete, Jack Palance, Mario Pisu, Daniele Vargas, Luciana Paluzzi, Lino Toffolo, Carla Romanelli, Stefano Sabelli, Marina Confalone, Attilio Duse
DIRECTOR: Nello Rossati
PRODUCER: Carlo Ponti
La Compagnia Cinematografica Champion / Surf Film s.r.l
RUNNING TIME: 100 min. 48 seconds
DVD SOURCE: No Shame Films
Managing to secure the devastating, luscious Swiss queen, Ursula Andress (AFRICA EXPRESS '75, SEX WITH A SMILE 2 '76, MOUNTAIN OF THE CANNIBAL GOD '78), Nello Rossati and company immediately brought a respectability to this picture going in. Ursula was into her forties at this point, but still brought the value of a superstar to any production she agreed to appear in. And the idea of Andress strutting around in the buff as a, 'sensuous nurse', was likely more than enough to have male audiences squirming in their seats.
Director Rossati (DJANGO STRIKES BACK '87, TOP LINE '88), although at heart a theater director first and foremost, proves he's just as handy and able with big screen productions. The entire film as a whole is very competent, beautifully shot with gorgeous high class locales, and actually fairly funny at times (something many Italian comedies are not). It begins with the narration of one of the central characters - wealthy head of a ritzy and devious family, wine connoisseur and recent widower, Count Leonida Bottacin (Mario Pisu), as he leads us through the death of his wife, his bedridden state as a result of his love of pussy, and his eventual attachment to his hot as hell nurse, Anna (Ursula Andress). The plan is simple...kill the rich old bastard with the unbearable sexual urges brought on by his temptress of a nurse, and split the inheritance that comes of his death. The problem is, how can this be done amongst a family of eccentric, backstabbing fools without fumbling the ball? That's all part of the fun in THE SENSUOUS NURSE.
The suddenly down on his luck Leonida first finds himself on his back after a romp over at the house of the undertaker, left in a daze, repeatedly uttering a favorite from the male vocabulary, "pussy", after slamming his wife. "The poor old darling, he loved it so much!", she cries. That's just the opening his scheming nephews Benito (Duilio Del Prete) and Gustavo (Daniele Vargas) needed to start off their plan to take the horny bugger's fortune prematurely. Benito in particular already has a transaction arranged at the expense of his dear Uncle, to steal the Count's established dealings with a hard-assed American vermouth tyrant, Mr. Kitch (Jack Palance), right out from underneath him. The no-nonsense Kitch in fact, has been lead to believe that the Count is about to croak as Benito tries to convince him that the Bottacin wine and Kitch's vermouth are the perfect combination. Unfortunately for them, it seems it may take a steam roller to kill this old shoe. They had better hurry though - Mr. Kitch is on his way!
When the sly, cigar chewing, Mr. Kitch (who resembles about a dozen of Palance's other characters) arrives to find out that Count Leonida is not dead, the pressure increases tenfold on Benito and the others to get his demise on the go! Even a larger setback to this sick and greedy plan is the fact that family Dr. Pavan (Attilio Duse) has told them that with proper treatment, the Count will have a clean bill of health. Duilio Del Prete's reaction to this is truely one of the most hilarious moments in the film as he screams, "Dammit to hell! What am I going to tell the American!?". Now there's one last thing that may do the trick - a drop-dead, stunning and busty blonde to play nurse, and induce a second heart attack. The perfect recipe for pushing daisies.
Benito heads off to Switzerland to hire an old flame, Anna, into playing nurse maid for Leonida, with promises of riches in the end. It would certainly be enough to kill me, as lovely Ursula moves into the family estate and proceeds to create a thousand and one hard-ons. Everyone from Leonida's nephews, to the wandering resident drunk Giovanni (Lino Toffolo), to the teenage son of Benito and his scorned wife, Jole (Luciana Paluzzi), want a piece of the delectable new babe on the block. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention...so does Count Leonida himself! That's right - instead of killing this senior with nine lives, the amazing Ursula's presence has of course, brought him out of his coma! Where do we go from here?! Well...right up her skirt!
THE SENSUOUS NURSE, from beginning to end was a pretty charming little flick and really kind of hard not to like. Of course, Ursula Andress as the frequently naked nurse would be a strong selling point for anyone, but that's not the only thing to recommend this film by. The performances are mostly all very, very good, the locations selected, as I said, are really tremendous (more detail about all of them can be found in the bonus interviews with director Nello Rossati and his brother - costume and set designer Tony Rossati), and most of the comedic moments do at least warrant a chuckle. I'll agree though, it's the title character we've come to see, and the title character we want! And I can't say it enough - Ursula is incredible here, making no qualms about shedding her clothing on several occasions, and doing it every time in a way that would make a blind man take notice. Whether it be a gracious nude swimming scene, or playfully rolling around in the sheets, she's simply a divine nymph here, without question.
The rest of the cast does well also, with veteran Duilio Del Prete (HIGH CRIME '73, VOICES FROM BEYOND '91) being quite memorable for his numerous slapstick-like comic scenes, some of which Ursula herself seemed to be getting a genuine laugh from. These are also helped considerably by Gianfranco Plenizio's easy-listening and very suitable score. Del Prete was always a reliable favorite of directors in Italy, having a long lasting film career up until his 1998 passing in Rome. Lino Toffolo (WHEN WOMEN HAD TAILS '70, MESSALINA, MESSALINA '77) as the maid chasing alcoholic, who takes just as much pleasure sampling Benito's wine as he does trying to get a piece of Carla Romanelli's (MY NAME IS SHANGHAI JOE '72, COPKILLER '83) tail, is also a riot. Toffolo, according to Rossati, was not open at first to playing the stereotypical drunk, but ended up really performing the part to perfection. Fellini actor Mario Pisu (8 1/2 '63, JULIET OF THE SPIRITS '65, THE BOSS '72), although not given the greatest of dialogue to work with, plays his part exactly as the way it was meant to be - a rich pervert of few words who can't keep his pecker in his pants, and keeps hurting himself as a result. Pisu would sadly pass away only a year after THE SENSUOUS NURSE, with his last film being Fernando Di Leo's NICK THE STING in 1976. He would die in July of that year of a cerebral hemorrhage. The rest of the cast, isn't really bad or memorable, especially and surprisingly, the other former Bond girl on the set - Luciana Paluzzi (THUNDERBALL '65, THE GREEN SLIME '68, 99 WOMEN '69) - who's boobs sure look great, but is left playing a rather stuffy character. She would do only two more films after this before calling it a career.
Jack Palance took this project on after having done a number of oddball European films prior - hot on the heels of working with Joan Collins in Gianfranco Baldanello's CRY OF THE WOLF, and again earlier with Ursula, on the very fun Michele Lupo flick, AFRICA EXPRESS (both 1975). Ol' Jack would take a hiatus from Italy after this, trying his hand at an unsuccessful American police series called BRONK, before returning in Bruno Corbucci's A COP IN BLUE JEANS (1976), and back to the curvy side of Ms. Andress with the Duccio Tessari follow-up, SAFARI EXPRESS (also 1976). His fantastic list of European films though, pre- and post SENSUOUS NURSE, is enough to make fans of both Jack and Italian fringe cinema, very happy.
This being my first brand spankin' new NO SHAME release, I have to say, I am both hugely impressed and extremely satisfied. I'll even go as far as to say that these guys are headed towards becoming the new trendsetters to look to when it comes to cleaning up and delivering our favorite Euro films of yesterday. The offerings for THE SENSUOUS NURSE are remarkable, with very vibrant, yet subtle packaging, a wonderful companion booklet with well written notes by the much liked Richard Harland Smith, and extras that you may not expect from a film that until now, has just been tossed around by budget labels.
The interview segment, 'Calling the Nurse', with director Nello Rossati and brother, production and costume designer, Tony, is very interesting and Nello struck me as a very intelligent, passionate man. His modesty about the reason for shooting films is refreshing, stating, "I enjoy making films...so much so that I've sometimes made bad films, because I liked shooting and making films. Not because I wanted to make, THAT particular film". Originally Rossati was, and to this day still is, a director of plays with an always burning love of the stage, but it's nice to know his reasons for making some of these occasionally off-the-wall films of his that we enjoy, was not money driven. The original Italian trailer included on the disc is pretty amusing in itself, and although the stills and poster gallery is a tad scant, there are enough outstanding shots of Ursula to make it special. No Shame really spruced this one up, with sharp picture and sound quality adding the cherry on top.
All in all, an A graded, must-have DVD for fans of this little Italian T&A comedy, and a great Christmas gift for certain for anyone in love with the undeniable beauty that is and always will be, Ursula Andress!
"Nothing but sex. Pornographic films do it every time."-Lino Toffolo (Giovanni, the drunk)
EXTRAS: 4/5 BITCH SLAPS
PICTURE/AUDIO: 5/5 BITCH SLAPS
OVERALL DVD: 4.5/5BITCH SLAPS
OVERALL FILM: 3/5 BITCH SLAPS (with an extra 1/2 BITCH SLAP to Ursula's fine ass)
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