Il Regista Ruspante
When Richard Lester first worked with an Italian crew, after a week they gave him a nickname — “the free-range director.” And in an age when so many directors are battery-farmed, that’s something to be treasured.
The nickname emerged when Lester introduced his film A HARD DAY’S NIGHT, one day ahead of the exact fiftieth anniversary of its London premiere, in the Piazza Maggiore of Bologna as the climax of the Cinema Ritrovato. A genuinely festive event!
I had the pleasure of dining with the Lesters along with some eminent French critics, the Ritrovato director and friends from Criterion, though the seating meant I spent most of the evening making it harder for the French to understand one another, but I did get to stroll alongside one of the great husband-and-wife double acts on the way from the restaurant to the Piazza.
“I always wanted to see Barce…” began Deirdre, stopping herself as she realized she had the name of the city wrong.
“If you want to see Barcelona… we’ll have to hurry,” said Mr. L.
Deirdre wondered if the film would be subtitled in Italian. I said I thought it would.
“I don’t know how you go about subtitling John Lennon,” she said.
“Well, I certainly wouldn’t want to have to dub him,” I offered.
In the event, most of the subtitling seemed to get the idea across. Sometimes a little creativity was required. When copper Deryck Guyler, confused as to Irishman Wilfred Brambell’s nationality, refers to him as Lloyd George (a Welsh statesman — the joke is that Brambell is singing “A Nation Once Again,” an Irish rebel song), the subtitler, in a desperate attempt to provide a reference the Italians might understand, substituted the name “Garibaldi.” It’s not quite right, but the conjunction of Wilfred Brambell and Garibaldi is hilarious.
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