Divorce Italian Style

1961 | Comedy | 108 minutes | Italian with English subtitles


Ferdinando, an impoverished nobleman, feels stuck in a marriage with Rosalie, an unattractive and common woman. Secretly, he’s totally smitten by Angela, a much younger and attractive neighbor. In Sicily, where they live, divorce is an impossibility. If you decide to to murder your wife, that will get you a jail sentence of 20-years or more. However, if the murder is committed because of a blatant infidelity, you may just get a slap on the wrist and the admiration of your neighbors. So, Ferdinando’s plan is to hatch a romance between Rosalie and Carmelo, a local, who has had feelings for Rosalie. Rosalie and Carmelo finally give in to their passion and run off as a couple. Ferdinando is now ridiculed as a pathetic cuckold. At this time he feels justified killing Rosalie. This “crime of honor” is actually defended by the State Prosecutor and Ferdinando received a light sentence. In an epilogue, Ferdinando and Angela are happily lounging on a sailboat. While Ferdinando is looking elsewhere, Angela is seductively rubbing her feet against the workman steering the boat.

Marcello Mastroianni (Ferdinando Cefalu) / Daniela Rocca (Rosalie Cefalù) / Stefanie Sandrelli (Angela) / Leopoldo Tieste (Carmelo Patané)
Why Stream This Film?
It’s one of Martin Scorsese’s favorite films. Here’s what he said: “Some of the richest, most beautiful black and white photography ever put on film. Very inventive, it really moves, as few films do, with a deftness and the driest, most cutting wit. It’s a film that truly haunts me. As funny as it is, the emotions that Germi was dealing with were primal, savage, and most disturbingly of all, eternal.”
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 100%
  • Academy Awards: Winner, Best Screenplay (Ennio De Concini, Alfredo Giannetti, Pietro Germi)
  • Golden Globes: Winner, Best Actor (Marcello Mastroianni); Best Foreign Film
  • BAFTA Awards: Winner, Best Actor (Marcello Mastroianni); Best Film
  • Cannes Film Festival: Best Comedy


Pietro’s Germi’s humorous, boldly wild DIVORCE ITALIAN STYLE is effective as a witty comedy, broad farce, and poignant satire. The movie, which was an international hit, changes tones as it goes along, but fulfills expectations of all these movie formats.
Emaunuel Levy


Pietro Germi, who directed and helped write the script, announces himself with this achievement as a master of farce in any style. He has managed to establish his thesis so well, with a wonderful droll illumination of the slippery characters of the community, and he has worked out his plot so deftly, with his tongue obviously in his cheek, that the whole arrangement seems not only respectable but all devilishly ingenious.
Bosley Crowther

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