Plot: two sisters inherit a mansion and convert it into a pension. Hilarity ensues!
In the post-La Liceale (1975) years things weren’t always easy for Gloria Guida. No doubt la Guida had the luxury of picking the roles she was interested in but the general quality of the sex comedies she appeared in was never exactly high to begin with. The Landlord (released domestically as L'affittacamere) is surprisingly tolerable and something of a minor cult hit despite being released at the tail end of Gloria’s turn as the iconic high school girl. Surrounded by some of the best comedic talent of the day, written and directed by some of the country’s most experienced specialists The Landlord might not be a masterwork of high comedy exactly, but that doesn’t make it any less entertaining. It shows extraordinary resilience not to revert to the kind of lowbrow slapstick shenanigans that Lino Banfi (with, or without, his trusty sidekick Alvaro Vitali) often indulges in whenever Gloria isn’t cavorting around in the nude. Even when Guida isn’t naked The Landlord is good fun. This was probably one of the better Guida offerings in those trying and challenging years before To Be Twenty (1978).
In the five-year span from 1974 to 1979 Gloria Guida had worked with some of the best and brightest in the commedia sexy all’Italiana industry. After Fernando Di Leo’s politically-charged To Be Twenty (1978), and having played just about every male wish fullfillment - and fantasy figure, perhaps it was time for Miss Teen Italy 1974 to branch out and spread her wings. Night Nurse (1979) was a semi-serious melodrama with the usual comedic interludes, and when glorious Gloria finally disrobed it was well worth the wait. The Landlord ramps up the situational – and slapstick comedy quotient and there’s at least one good chuckle-inducing moment where Gloria loses her dress and has to make a run across the street in only her translucent white lingerie (complete with stockings and garterbelts, for those who care for such details) in a scene probably “inspired” by the corresponding Nadia Marlowa scene in Sergio Grieco’s fumetti Argoman (1967) and something she would do in The High School Girl Repeating Class (1978) two years later. Fran Fullenwider’s sleepwalking episodes are memorable for all the wrong reasons, and at least she ended up working in Italy for a number of years after her roles in The Mutations (1974) and The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975). If anything but that must have been a nice little opportunity to vacation while she was there. Lino Banfi is suprisingly tolerable (he doesn’t engage in his usual odious slapstick and the mugging is minimal), but it’s really Giuseppe Pambieri who’s responsible for most of the actual comedy. Vittorio Caprioli always elevates every scene he’s in and here it’s no different. The man was a genius. The Landlord is far from quintessential Italo comedy, but it’s far better than most base Gloria Guida swill.
Giorgia Mainardi (Gloria Guida) and her sister Angela (Fran Fullenwider) inherit a mansion in the countryside near Bologna after their aunt-contesa (Flora Carosello) passes away. Once the notary (Dino Emanuelli) and lawyer Mandelli (Giancarlo Dettori) get the necessary paperwork out of the way, the girls agree to convert the building into a pension and name it Pension Paraiso (or Pension Paradise). Angela designs the flyers and when Giorgia distributes flyers across town their new business venture attracts not only the attention of the printer (Aristide Caporale), but also that of judge Damiani (Adolfo Celi), the local arbiter of wisdom and moral values; as well as playboy jockey Anselmo Bresci (Giuseppe Pambieri) and professor Eduardo Settebeni (Luciano Salce). The pension is fully booked almost overnight, and quickly the rumor spreads that Pension Paraiso is not a pension but a casa d'appuntamento, if one is willing to part with 50,000 lire “for a night in paradise” with the hostess, so to speak.
This, of course, attracts the attention of Angela’s boyfriend Lillino Scalabrin (Lino Banfi). Lillino books himself a room, as does professor Eduardo Settebeni. Among the clientele are Pasquale Esposito Ramazzini (Enzo Cannavale) and the honorable judge Vincenzi (Vittorio Caprioli) who gladly pay a pretty penny to have Giorgia over. Also staying overnight are judge Damiani’s wife Rosaria (Marilda Donà) and Settebeni’s wife Adele Bazziconi (Giuliana Calandra), the latter hoping to catch her husband in flagrante delicto and the former to meet her lover Anselmo Bresci. Professor Settebeni has been prospecting the property with eye on converting it into a clinic once he retires. Hilarity ensues when everybody ends up between the sheets with each other, and Mandelli and Giorgia come up with a last-minute plan to salvage the planned sale. In the end Settebeni pays Giorgia 50 milioni lire for the building, allowing Angela and Lillino to marry, and the trio decides to move to a luxurious mansion in Puglia. There Giorgia devises a plan to turn the house into a pension now that she has a strategy.
Like in Night Nurse (1979) a few years later The Landlord director Mariano Laurenti is more concerned with the group dynamic and the interpersonal dramatics than showcasing Gloria Guida’s exposed form, although there’s enough of that too. It wasn’t even the first time Guida had worked with Mariano Laurenti. He would direct her in The High School Girl Repeating Class (1978) two years later, and would do so again in How to Seduce Your Teacher (1979), and The High School Girl, the Devil, and the Holy Water (1979). While she often could be found sharing the screen with buffoons Lino Banfi and Alvaro Vitali whose combined physical-situational comedy is best described as odious, Gloria was fortunate to share the screen with some of Italy’s greatest comedians, be they Vittorio Caprioli, Enzo Cannavale, or Nino Castelnuovo. In case of The Landlord it is Lando Buzzanca. Buzzanca made his debut as a Jewish slave in William Wyler’s big budget peplum epic Ben-Hur (1959), and started to specialize in comedy as early as 1961. He has shared the screen with just about every major and minor Eurocult queen imaginable. Buzzance and Guida shared the screen together just the year before in The Mammon Cat (1975). Fran Fullenwider is mostly remembered around these parts for her small role in The Mutations (1974). What can be said about Giuseppe Pambieri? Some guys have all the luck. He crossed paths with Gloria (and with a pre-Cicciolina Ilona Staller) earlier in La Liceale (1975), with Edwige Fenech in Confessions of a Lady Cop (1976), and with Chai Lee in Yellow Emanuelle (1976) (also with Staller). Vittorio Caprioli was in To Be Twenty (1978) with Guida and Lilli Carati.
By 1979 Gloria Guida was probably in a different headspace, she had been making a living taking her clothes off for about 5 years, and her spreads in Playboy, Playmen, and Skorpio showcased her to those who never caught any of her many comedies. The long and short of it was that anything after would be fairly redundant now that she had shown all in print magazines across the world. She had traveled to Mexico to work with René Cardona Jr. on The Bermuda Triangle (1978) (the sole horror entry in Guida’s filmography). Guida had a brush with relevance with Fernando Di Leo’s brilliant satire To Be Twenty (1978) most of her post-1978 oeuvre gravitates towards slightly more serious or darker toned material. As limited an actress as she was it’s puzzling that Guida never became involved in the giallo (and, by extent, horror) genre like so many of her comedy contemporaries did. In truth by 1978 Gloria was no longer believable as la liceale, and the world was forever denied a movie with her as a l’insegnante. It was evident that Gloria was winding down from acting and two years away from meeting her future-husband Johnny Dorelli. A year later she woud retire from acting and shift focus on her personal life and singing career. The Landlord is the last Guida comedy worth seeing as it sets its sights slightly higher than usual.