All Ladies Do It [Blu-ray 4K]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Cult Epics
Review written by and copyright: Eric Cotenas (12th April 2024).
The Film

Lingerie shop girl Diana (Claudia Koll) is happily married to political envoy Paolo (P.O. Box Tinto Brass' Paolo Lanza) and living comfortably… but not excitingly. Her casual flirtations and intimations of impropriety have already been shown to arouse Paolo who believes she is merely teasing him, but the overt and aggressive attentions of French poet Alphonse Donatien (Senso '45's Franco Branciaroli) -- given name of the Marquis de Sade – excite and arouse her to the point where she beings to truly question whether marital fidelity really is a natural state. Diana's bisexual sister Nadia (Ornella Marcucci), lecherous boss (The Face with Two Left Feet's Renzo Rinaldi), shop colleagues Antonietta (Isabella Deiana) and gay Lello (Maurizio Martinoli), and senator's wife client (Pierangela Vallerino) all espouse the joys of "happy banging" – and a pre-contraceptive means of preventing pregnancy – that enrich rather than degrade their more permanent relationships. Even Paolo seems to perk up when Diana returns from her aunt's funeral in Venice with an embellished account of reconnecting with her cousin Marco (Marco Marciani), the revelation that her aunt (Rossana Di Pierro) was a prostitute who nevertheless loved her husband who filmed her encounters – and Donatien waxing poetic over the expressiveness of her derriere; that is, until Paolo discovers evidence of the reality of her unfaithfulness whereupon he walks out on her. While Diana does not feel that in her own way she is a faithful wife, she nevertheless misses Paolo and an attempt to defy him with a night out on the town with her friends and a seminary student (Jean Renι Lemoine) gathering firsthand material for his thesis on sin.

Taking its Italian title from the Mozart opera "Cosμ fan tutti" – changed from "everybody does it" to the strictly feminine "Cosμ fan tutte" – All Ladies Do It is the fifth film of Brass' "maestro of erotica" career phase from the eighties onwards following the arthouse/mainstream success of his literary adaptation The Key, the lighter but more explicit Miranda and Paprika, and the more mainstream and less successful Capriccio and Snack Bar Budapest; and the scenario by Brass and frequent Fellini collaborator Bernardino Zapponi (Dario Argento's Deep Red) would form a template for some of Brass' subsequent works about neurotic husbands who learn not to stifle their wives' "joie de vivre" including Tra(sgre)dire/Cheeky as well as The Voyeur and his final feature to date Monamour which were both loose adaptations of other literary sources. After the release of the film, Brass credits the fan mail he received from female fans with similar experiences to that of Diana as the inspiration for his portmanteau P.O. Box Tinto Brass.

The argument seems to be a more generalized "what's good for the goose is good for the gander," attacking the double standard Paolo seems to accept rather as normalized rather than actually practices himself; and, in the end, it seems like he settles for being aroused by being deceived rather than actually indulging in "happy banging" of his own despite the carnal interest of his sister-in-law (who then calls him a "repressed fag" when he rebuffs her). The subsequent Brass films become increasingly lighter in tone and refine or perhaps over-simplify the scenario to better effect happy endings. Here so, more than his previous films – taking into account that he was not responsible for the hardcore inserts of Caligula – Brass and the camera of Silvano Ippoliti (Maya) delve deep into the nether regions of his female performers while most of the men sport rubber phalluses and a few background performers go full-on hardcore without the camera dwelling on it; and yet, the film is not pornographic, instead forging a sort of idealized world pleasing to the heterosexual male gaze in which women work out nude in gyms and walk about the city in clothing that is either completely transparent or open at the bust (the film's gay character is the usual comic relief and while bisexual females are glamorous but transsexuals are objects of ridicule and lesbians are "bull dykes"). Less analytical viewers can find abundant T&A on display against some beautiful backdrops – Venetian locations and strikingly colorful and naughtily-decorated sets – carried along by the rollicking orchestral/rock scoring of Pino Donaggio (Body Double) who quotes from the Mozart opera and co-wrote the wonderfully eighties song "Love Raider" with his regular synthesizer programmer Paolo Steffan (Donaggio and Steffan would return for Brass's Monella/Frivolous Lola and Tra(sgre)dire/Cheeky).


Unreleased theatrically or on home video in the United States upon release, All Ladies Do It first appeared on DVD through Cult Epics around 2001 in a non-anamorphic transfer of the English export version and was subsequently upgraded in 2004 with an anamorphic DVD of the more explicit Italian version. The Blu-ray upgrade actually came from Arrow Video – who had also put out the export version on DVD during their Arrow Films days – but it was one of the less satisfactory remasters from the title's rights holder Filmexport, looking so much paler than the DVD transfers to suggest that it had not been graded properly (including some scenes with a blue cast to the whites and highlights).

We have not seen the recent German Blu-ray but Cult Epic's 2160p24 HEVC 1.85:1 widescreen HDR10 4K UltraHD and 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.85:1 widescreen Blu-ray – also available separately and announced as part of the Tinto Brass: Maestro of Erotica Cinema 2 four Blu-ray/bonus DVD boxed set – comes from a new 4K restoration of the original camera negatives and is the best the film has looked on digital formats (and likely non-digital if the master used for the original 4:3 DVDs was anything to go by). Unlike the Arrow Blu-ray, colors pop and blacks are deep while highlights are kept under control despite the lighting style. Besides various methods of diffusion including smoke and filters, Ippoliti's coverage style consists of lighting the location and then "probing" it with the camera, so there are plenty of lens flares throughout the zooms and pans that also spill into the edges of the frame during some close-ups. Rather than the glamour treatment, Ippoliti also favors high contrast lighting and a degree of either diluted or crushed blacks on either end of the spectrum is organic to the visual rather than an issue with the grading, and the other Brass/Ippoliti films support that (in contrast to the sharper, cleaner look of Brass' subsequent films after Ippoliti's death).

While The Key and a number of subsequent Brass films were intended to be framed at 1.66:1 – with a handful of the later titles during the digital and HDTV era explicitly stating a ratio of "1:1.66" in the closing credits – All Ladies Do It has been framed here at 1.85:1. While 1.66:1 seems like it would have been the more appropriate choice since Brass and Ippoliti utilize the height of the image with both wide shots and close-ups clipping hairlines, Ippoliti pans and zooms so much throughout scenes that symmetrical compositions are often just the starting point (as if Ippolit and Brass were still shooting multi-cam as they had during Brass' arthouse/mainstream heyday).


Audio options include English and Italian DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo and mono options – the mono tracks having appeared on various VHS and DVD editions – with the stereo tracks giving spread to Donaggio's score more so than effects or atmosphere. After having watched the film in English and Italian as PAL conversions, the pitch of the tracks is lower but this is presumably correct – whether Koll dubbed herself on the Italian track or not, her voice was always deeper and huskier than the one chosen for the English dub – and the optional English subtitles are free of any obvious errors.


Both the 4K UltraHD and included Blu-ray accompany the film with an audio commentary by critics Eugenio Ercolani and Troy Howarth in which Ercolani describes how like Fellini, Hitchcock, and Argento, Brass is one of those filmmakers who has transcended his films to become a cultural figure as a "master of scandal" and had been able to adapt to every shift in Italian cinema from the sixties onwards, and that the theatrical release of works like All Ladies Do It were considered "events" while Howarth discusses the much later "discovery" of Brass' erotic works – along with his pre-Salon Kitty/Caligula films – in the United States on DVD and ponders whether this can be considered a feminist film, as well as whether Brass had the male actors brandish rubber phalluses as a means of avoiding censorship and protecting their modesty or to reduce the male characters to "human dildos." They both discuss the collaboration with Zapponi and other ways in which Brass parallels Fellini including his ability as a "star finder" and his films in relation to other Italian erotica of the period like the works of Joe D'Amato who was making both softcore films for cable and video and hardcore films for video at the time.

The rest of the extras are on the Blu-ray including an interview with director Tinto Brass (15:19) which had been featured on the Cult Epics DVD editions in which Brass relates his belief that virginity, chastity, and fidelity are culturally-imposed values from a time before contraception for the purposes of inheritance. He discusses his casting including regular Branciaroli and Koll, as well as anecdotes about how he discovered and auditioned some of his other co-stars (he would never ask The Key' Stefania Sandrelli to bend over and pick up a coin for him). He also reveals that the apartment of the poet decorated with paintings and sculptures of women's "expressive" rear ends was that of a real antique dealer who he nicknamed "Alphone Donatien" after Sade.

The disc also includes the outtakes (9:57) from the DVD, here with a disclaimer that some of that footage is part of the feature presentation on new release, as well as a still gallery (2:05).

Apart from the commentary, the 4K UltraHD disc only features the film's English export trailer (3:21) – featuring both Brass and Koll speaking English to the camera – and a trailer for Frivolous Lola (2:17) while the Blu-ray also features trailers for Paprika (1:11), P.O. Box Tinto Brass (1:05), and the documentary IsTintoBrass (4:13) which was included in the limited edition two-disc set of P.O. Box Tinto Brass.


Both the 4K UltraHD/Blu-ray and Blu-ray editions come with a reversible cover, slipcover, four collectible lobby cards, and a 20-page illustrated booklet featuring Eugenio Ercolani and Domenico Monetti's essay "From Demon to Saint: The Career of Claudia Koll" in which we learn how Koll defied her father and started taking acting classes and doing stage work, went to the United States and studied under Susan Strasberg, and had a few small roles in Italian film and television before landing the lead in All Ladies Do It. Although she was not ashamed of the role at the time and during her subsequent stage and television career, in later years she founded a Catholic charity and became artistic director of the Star Rose Academy, an art school founded by the Ursuline Sisters of the Holy Family.


A pivotal work in the "maestro of erotica" phase of Tinto Brass' filmmaking career, All Ladies Do It in 4K restores the striking artistic sheen to the director's treatise on "happy banging."


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