More than a Miracle - 1967
More than a Miracle (aka C'era una volta) - Released Oct 19, 1967. Directed by Francesco Rosi
Sophia Loren is in a peasant dress for most of this faery tale in which a neapolitan farm girl (Loren) is helped by a consortium of old women who meet in the woods (and appear to be witches) to plan the winning of the affections of a hot-headed Spanish prince (Omar Sharif) who is under pressure from the Spanish court and his family to find a wife and get married, pronto. The old women have Loren slated for that job, and like faery godmothers who step in when the going gets rough, they're dedicated to seeing the mission through to the end. This is important since it will seem Loren has failed completely during a crucial "dish washing contest" to determine who will win the Prince's hand in marriage.
Besides the witches, a flying priest (mostly he just hovers about fifty feet in the air) assists Loren in her quest for the love of this man so high above her station. She does her best, in between angry fits, to follow the instructions from her various benefactors. In one funny sequence Omar is paralysed into a squatting position while he is munching on mutton by Loren's malfunctioning "spell", and unable to move anything but his eyes he is then carried about in this ridiculous position.
The film doesn't always mix together the faery tale and the modern (for 1967) love story between the two unequals very well. When Omar's character occasionally uses violence (for example gives Loren a sharp slap across the face) it's a jarring moment far different from the goofy tone maintained elsewhere in the story (script by Tonino Guerra, Raffaele La Capria, Giuseppe Patroni Griffi, and Giambattista Basile).
Costuming is first rate and imaginative, the jousting and scenery is interesting and gorgeous. The tale is a bit predictable but the humor about the faery tale proceedings helps considerably.
More than a Miracle is streaming in HD at Warner Archive.
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From former screen legends who have faded into obscurity to new revelations about the biggest movie stars, Valderrama unearths the most fascinating little-known tales from the birth of Hollywood through its Golden Age.
Winner of the 2020 Peter C. Rollins Book Award
Longlisted for the 2020 Moving Image Book Award by the Kraszna-Krausz Foundation
Named a 2019 Richard Wall Memorial Award Finalist by the Theatre Library Association