Plot: dopey industrialist must procure a male heir and hires a maid. Hilarity ensues!
The Mammon Cat (or Il Gatto Mammone, released in Spain as the more descriptive El Impotente Seductor, which basically spoils the entire plot) was released during the marquee year that was 1975, probably the busiest year for everybody’s favorite commedia sexy all’Italiana Lolita. That year la Guida had no less than five (!!) other movies out and about in cineplexes, domestic and abroad. Whether it was Blue Jeans (1975), that beloved valentine to glorious Gloria’s world-famous derrière, the light-hearted fun of La Liceale (1975), or the melodrama of The Novice (1975), That Malicious Age (1975), or So Young, So Lovely, So Vicious… (1975) Miss Teen Italy 1974 had something for everybody. In a year awash with more naked Gloria Guida than anybody could possiby ask for The Mammon Cat is a funny enough romp with a decent amount of Gloria in the buff and enough slapstick shenanigans for everybody else.
Nando Cicero was one of those directors who – after the obligatory spaghetti westerns, Eurospy romps, and peplum – specialized almost exclusively in commedia sexy all'Italiana. In that capacity he got to work with some of the finest leading ladies of the day, including but not limited to, Michela Miti, Carmen Russo, Helga Liné, Cristina Galbó, Marisa Mell, and Erika Blanc. Cicero is mostly remembered for The School Teacher (1975), The Lady Medic (1976), and the two-part Doctor Eva Marini saga (1977-1978) – all with Edwige Fenech, whenever she wasn’t working with Sergio and Luciano Martino, as well as L'assistente sociale tutto pepe (1981) with a post-StarCrash (1978) Nadia Cassini. Cicero closed the gates on Gloria Guida’s famous La Liceale series with his anthology The High School Girl, the Devil, and the Holy Water (1979). The Mammon Cat was that other instance he worked with Miss Teen Italy 1974 and just like with all her other melodramas that year Gloria Guida appears only in a supporting role.
Sicilian pasta factory owner Lollo Mascalucia (Lando Buzzanca) has been happily married for many years. All that time he insisted to the town priest (Franco Giacobini), the doctor (Umberto Spadaro), and the local pharmacist (Empedocle Buzzanca) that offspring is about the last thing on his mind. His loving wife Rosalia (Rossana Podestà) is apparently unable to conceive and to make matter worse her high-strung, geriatric mother (Grazia Di Marzà) is living with them. That’s not all. Lollo’s haunted by hallucinations during the day (and nightmares at night) about the fiery collision that killed his father and the remainder of his family. One day he’s asked to produce a male heir who’s to inherit his modest business empire. The couple decide that a surrogate mother is the way to go, and Lollo embarks on a quest to find a suitable candidate. A casual misunderstanding leads him into the grubby hands of an aging and very fertile (but hugely unattractive) widow (Sofia Lusy, as Sophia Lucy). Lollo is able to talk himself out of a very embarrassing predicament and escapes with his dignity intact.
At the local orphanage Lollo catches a glimpse of young Marietta (Gloria Guida). He arranges with Mother Superior (Adriana Facchetti) and the nun (Ermelinda De Felice) for her to start working as their maid with an eye on officially adopting her. Marietta is over the moon with her sudden change of fortune. She soon moves into the Mascalucia casa signorile and lovingly refers to Lollo as “papà”. Finally Lollo is able to seduce young Marietta and before long he ends up between the sheets with her. Time passes and after systematically trying (up to six times a day) the obviously healthy and fertile Marietta is unable to conceive too. Dismayed at the prospect of not being able to produce a male heir Lollo learns that he’s in fact impotent. Rosalia offers to give him a heir with the help of gypsy Zingaro (Tiberio Murgia), who she had an eye on. At long last Mascalucia will get his long-desired heir, but probably not in the way he imagined.
As can be surmised from the summary The Mammon Cat is not really a Gloria Guida vehicle. No, it’s a Lando Buzzanca comedy that happens to have Guida in a supporting role. Glorious Gloria is only billed third (after screen veterans Buzzanca and Podestà) but that doesn’t mean that Nando Cicero doesn’t get the most out of her relatively minor part. Since nobody subjects themselves to these things voluntarily - and you couldn’t make a graver mistake than taking these things seriously – the reason why any of these features have attained any sort of cinematic longevity is not the writing (which isn’t too shabby for once either, but that’s besides the point) but the promise of a good dose of naked Gloria Guida shenanigans. And la Guida does get naked, only you’ll have to be patient to get to the good stuff. Just like in La Liceale (1975), and So Young, So Lovely, So Vicious… (1975) before and That Malicious Age (1975) Gloria can be seen soaping herself up in an extended foamy shower scene that solely seems to exist to showcase her world-famous and much beloved ass. Of course that shapely ass would get its own feature with the very lyrical and poetic Blue Jeans (1975). Also worth mentioning is that peplum and spaghetti western pillar Rossana Podestà, a ripe 41 here, looks quite fetching. Dagmar Lassander, ten years her junior, looked far worse for wear in the scathing melodrama So Young, So Lovely, So Vicious… (1975). Lando Buzzanca plays the stereotypical self-absorbed Italian greaseball that so richly deserves to be ridiculed for his virulent machismo and, in fact, very thoroughly is. On the other hand Lando’s also allowed to play his usual dopey self – and is pretty harmless as such.
And what exactly is the Il Gatto Mammone, or The Mammon Cat of the title, you wonder? Well, for starters it’s a popular figure in Italian (and wider Mediterranean) folklore and superstition. The gist of the parable of the Mammon Cat (which we won’t detail here) is to keep children (and elderly) sufficiently scared so that they won’t leave their familiar and safe environs, and that jealously and envy seldom, if ever, lead to anything good. The Mammon Cat is referenced in literature from Marco Polo, Goethe, and even the Arthurian legends. It features prominently in the works from Giovanni Francesco Straparola, Vittorio Imbriani, and Gherardo Nerucci – and the folkloric tale still lives on to this day in the regions of Sardinia, Puglia, and Valdichiana. As for the Mammon Cat of our current subject, that appears to be one of jealousy and envy, as well as the proverbial stray cat that Gloria Guida plays. Not that she ends up scratching anyone. Well, she does scratch Lando Buzzanca’s itch and he does ends up learning a valuable life lesson while at it. Then there’s also the Vulgate Bible and New Testament entity Mammon that promises wealth and that’s typically associated with the greedy pursuit of gain. In that sense The Mammon Cat is almost like Disney, but with far more nudity, Italian machismo and decent amount of comedic incestual misunderstandings. And what is more Italian than the adulation and pursuit of ass? Nothing, that's what.
Gloria Guida was at her best when she could play off actors with far more (comedic) talent than her. Having shared the screen with Nino Castelnuovo, Giuseppe Pambieri, Mario Carotenuto, and Enzo Cannavale, it was just a matter of time before la Guida would be paired up with comedy royalties as Lando Buzzanca and Vittorio Caprioli. After having shared the screen with Caprioli in To Be Twenty (1978) there was no way Gloria (nor Lili Carati for that matter) was ever going to top Fernando di Leo’s satirical masterpiece.
Guida would persevere with more futile commedia sexy’all Italiana before marrying showman Johnny Dorelli in 1981 and focusing on her nascent singing career. Thankfully la Guida never had to lower herself to sexploitation dreck the way Solveig Andersson and Christina Lindberg had to back in Sweden. On the other hand, it begs the question why Gloria never had her own giallo or was picked up in the horror genre. Not that she was even remotely on the same level as Barbara Bouchet or Nieves Navarro, but la Guida often found herself engaging in the kind of low effort swill that she was too good for. Then there’s the fact that she was typecast almost immediately and never really escaped the looming shadow of her famous schoolgirl character. Not that glorious Gloria ever really faded in relevance or popularity (or at least not in her native Italy, internationally might be another discussion) but as Italy’s prime lolita she deserved better than to be forever cast as the empty headed sex-crazed bimbo.