Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell centers around "Carla" (played by the beautiful Gina Lollobrigida), an Italian woman who lives in an idyllic hillside town, San Forino, which is throwing a reunion bash for the Air Force members stationed there during World War II. Her daughter, "Gia" (Janet Margolin) is also in town, and eager to connect with anyone who knew her deceased American father, Air Force captain "Eddie Campbell." A dilemma: Eddie doesn't exist. He's a character Carla invented to save face in the town because she doesn't know who Gia's father really is. It could be one of three servicemen she was with during the war. Maybe the balding and goofy Cpl. Phil Newman (played wonderfully by Phil Silvers), the handsome Lt. Justin Young (Peter Lawford), or is he Sgt. Walter Braddock (Telly Savalas)? They've all been sending Carla money for over 20 years, believing her letters that they are Gia's father. They are all in San Forino with their wives and family, not just to see their old war buddies, but also lustily looking to ditch them for a date with their old flame Carla. Throw in the Italian Vittorio (Phillipe Leroy), who works for Carla and loves her, and Mrs. Campbell has got issues.
Carla sets up three dates with her old boyfriends, all to take place at her beautiful home (which they paid for), but her plans are to flee and ditch her ex-flames. She's then foiled by her daughter's insistence on staying in town. She improvises, in very funny scenes, to get rid of the three men who show up around the same time. Carla succeeds in the short term, but then, the walls start crumbling. The three fathers find out about the ruse, their wives find out their husbands have been spending quite a bit of a money the last twenty years, and Gia discovers Eddie Campbell isn't real either. To make things worse, Gia is involved with a married (and separated) older man she met in France who received a research grant and is suddenly asking her to move to Brazil with him. She can't take any of this, or her lying mother, and takes the car to flee to be with her love. She literally crashes the car into a hospital, and ends up there as a patient for observation, unharmed.
The three dads show up, and convince "their" daughter to finish her education and make something of herself. There are excellent moments where each "Dad" contributes a unique moment with Gia. The three wives are also present, initially looking to tear the hide off their spouses, but now observing and lending their support for Gia. All three American families end up laughing off the whole matter, making up, and returning home. Carla and Vittorio, in the last scene of the movie, end up getting back together; they just can't quit each other.
This movie is funny, touching, and well-paced. The cast is uniformly excellent, and they serve the story well. Gina Lollobrigida and Telly Savalas, in particular, really stand out and light up every scene they're in. Gina has to humanize Carla so the audience won't judge her too harshly, no small task. Telly is so charismatic, so engaging, and owns a superb scene dancing with "his" daughter at a party, that really resonates. This film is a totally enjoyable experience.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell comes as a BD25 Blu-ray disc in a standard blue keepcase slipcase, and loads in region A only. The film defaults into English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio, and there are no subtitles.
The video on this release is an 1:85:1 AVC encode. The beginning of the movie, featuring large vistas of Italy, is an absolute mess, and starts the viewing experience roughly. Excessive grain and noise persist throughout the opening sequence and thankfully, it gets better very soon after that. Interior shots (the majority of the film) look above average for a movie pushing 4+ decades. Skin textures look very natural, and colors often pop in the Italian settings; scenes of a red convertible, along with other shots of multi-colored dresses, really stand out. One scene in particular with the lead in a yellow dress looked great. The details in close-up as well as medium shots also look above-average. Less than halfway through the film, an extended scene of a night-time party is the standout sequence for the video. There is good contrast throughout the scene, as darkened alleys and colored bulbs lighting up the festivities play well off each other, and are well rendered. Many of the suits and dresses worn by the dancing participants exhibit excellent texture and also stand out from the background. There's other good examples of detail - A close-up of a church bell ringing, which looks fantastic, and the shots in the hospital room at the end, which feature some of the highest detail on the disc. There are some source issues. At 1:31:34, there's a scene with the three wives that exhibits very bad flicker, and a very jolting softness. Like the beginning of the film, most of the soft and noisy scenes are sporadic (but very short) exteriors of Italy. The assumedly stock footage of Rome looks bad. These scenes also look washed out. Fortunately, these moments are brief and far between, and the video presents itself well overall, certainly for a film this age.
There's one audio track, English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, and it sound very faithful to a movie made from 1968. The audio focuses on the extensive dialogue throughout, with some music during certain sequences, but overall, very little directionality. The mix here is simple. Dialogue (sometimes heavily accented) is crisp and intelligible. The audio track as a whole tends to skew towards a tinnier, higher register; there's no real dynamics to the soundtrack. Predictably, the subwoofer really has nothing to do throughout the movie. However, I didn't hear an excessive amount of hiss, static, or any other distracting anomaly. It's a very pleasing and faithful reproduction of the movie.
Trailer (HD, 2:57) - The theatrical trailer for the film. Some of the funnier scenes are showcased with some groovy editing.
I had a blast watching this movie. It's nearly two hours long, but it breezes by. Italy, and its gorgeous main setting, San Forino, provide a beautiful backdrop to a fun throwback comedy that never bores, and the ensemble gives great performances and funny lines throughout. Pretty to look at, sexy, often funny, and even a bit poignant at times, 'Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell' is an entertaining film. Recommended.
Portions of this review also appear in our coverage of Dunkirk on Blu-ray. This post features unique Vital Disc Stats, Video, and Final Thoughts sections.