This film was reviewed in at least one publication: it was was featured in a pictorial in a 1973 issue of Penthouse Magazine, upon the release of the film “Master of Love” (known as Racconti proibite di niente vestiti in Italian). The good news is that the film was seen by reviewer Roger Finborough as echoing the grand tradition of the Decameron of Boccaccio; the bad news is, what is quite acceptable and even popular in Europe or Italy (the film broke box office records in Italy, Penthouse tells us, though we’re not sure which ones) was not necessary rated acceptably here in the U.S., where it was also released. Which is unfortunate because while the film contained a lot of nudity, it also contained a lot of comedy, which Rossano in particular very much enjoyed - Finborough went so far as to say that Rossano’s interpretation of his character “approached the zaniness of Groucho Marx”. In fact, the review was so positive, we’re becoming more and more annoyed at not being able to find the film - yet. If anyone has a copy of this in their "personal library", let us know!
The film’s premise had to do with a wise and experienced maestro in the arts of love (Rossano) imparting his knowledge and techniques to a younger man before he dies ... Rossano’s character’s final great act of love was to “expire in the arms of the outrageously beautiful Lady Death”. The film is considered an erotic comedy, the majority of the cast spending a considerable amount of time without the benefit of clothing, in a variety of unusual circumstances. By the way, the “student” is played by Ben Ecklund, Britt’s younger brother, and even Lidia Brazzi was in the cast of this film, so really - how much fun could Rossano have really had, making it? And for those of you who might have remote access to a 30-year collection of old Penthouse magazines and have been listening to, “Hey! These’ll be valuable some day!” for 30 years ... you’ll be looking for the March 1973 issue, while grudgingly admitting to the smug owner that he might have been right..
We gave the idea of adding photos to this page a bit of thought, but decided to merely quote the text ... here's our theory: a lot of people from all over the world read this web site with the intent of learning about Rossano Brazzi, not staring at pictures of naked people. Now true, there are some of you out there who wouldn't mind it at all ... but there are also some who probably would. The web site hosts might also start hemming and hawing and pointing at their posting regulations. But since you've all been surfing these pages without pictures of naked people in it all this time without fussing about it, you'll probably not miss it this time, either. At least, that's our theory. We could be wrong, but we'll risk it. The most you'll need to contend with, is some risque text (this is, after all, Penthouse Magazine). We did add one photo (above), out of which Lady Death has been cropped (badly), but it does give you some idea of Rossano's character's appearance - long hair, rakish-looking facial hair and all.
Penthouse Magazine, March 1973, written by Roger Finborough
"It's been said that great lovers are born and not made, though how anyone gets to be a great lover without being made is a riddle in itself. Anyway, the point is that you can't learn about sex from a book. No matter how graphic the text or explicit the pictures, no book can conjure up lust, gusto, and all the erotic nuances and noises of big-league lasciviousness. What the latent libertine really requires is a sexual guide or mentor, someone who can roll up his (figurative) sleeves and demonstrate how it's done.
That's the part that Rossano Brazzi plays in his latest $300,000 movie Master of Love. This mature but still virile veteran (52) of countless amorous screen encounters takes a young boy and gives him a crash course in every kind of sexual variation one can think of, plus some that one would rather sit back and watch than think of.
"It's in the finest tradition of Italian comedy," said Brazzi, whose brother Oscar produced the film, with Monty Weitzman as his executive producer. "I explain to the boy (Ben Ekland - brother of Britt Ekland) exactly what his rights are with women, what he can expect from them, and what he should do once he's got them." For starters, the sensuous schoolmaster takes his passionate pupil to see the notable Miss Barbara Bouchet on her wedding day. The wily old master persuades the girl to make love to him, and then at the last moment the boy takes his place and thus acquires his first taste of jusprimae noctis - the right to the first knock. From there, the erotic action gets ever faster and more furious, because the film's casting director has booked five of Europe's most delectable starlets, including Jenny Agren, Careen Schubert, Sylvia Monti, and Tina Aumont, and the two roues have only a couple of hours of screen time to get through them all. Besides that, they've got to squeeze in some humor (from Enrico Carouchio, the leading Italian comedian), and some exquisite scenery.
They also have Brunello Rondi as director - the man who wrote La Dolce Vita, Cabiria and other Fellini classics - and his droll, economic style turns this erotic odyssey into a small masterpiece of love and how to get it. There's philosophy in the lessons, too, apart from sheer sexuality. After seducing a whole clutch of desirable women, the master ravisher gets a crack at Death herself, which is something of a grave experience, but one from which sensuality emerges supreme.
For Brazzi, comedy is proving an exhilarating new experience. "I love humor so much, I want to get into it in a big way," he explained. He is planning another comedy, about bourgeois Italian men, though he also has a Mafia movie called The Professor on his schedule. What is his attitude toward the rampant eroticism of his Master of Love?
"I think it is very enjoyable, very amusing," he said. "Love is all part of life - why ignore it?" There are plenty of amorous ingredients in the film that won't be ignored - and in particular that Barbara Bouchet wedding-day seduction, which takes place in the aisle of the church itself, and a slightly sacrilegious frolic in a nunnery.
Brunello Rondi is something of an expert when it comes to satirical comments on the Italian religious establishment: witness La Dolce Vita and Fellini's biting parodies of priestly pomposity in 1812. But Master of Love, despite these caustic asides, is not primarily meant as an anti-religious film. Italians criticize their priesthood and clergy in the same way that Americans criticize their politicians and the British criticize their weather: you may not like them, but you've got to live with them.
The principal purpose of the movie is to carry on the eminent erotic heritage of the Decameron of Boccaccio, by presenting a series of sexual vignettes, linked by a compelling common theme. Brazzi educates his less-than-unwilling pupil in everything from simple seduction to sadomasochism. His technique is simple, but it has to be seen in the flesh to be appreciated. Take an incident, for example, when Brazzi is splashing in a convent tub with the Mother Superior and a nubile novice. He persuades a delicious young aristocratic lady that this is a purifying bath, and that the best thing she could do for her soul would be to strip off and plunge in. The rest can be safely left to the imagination and this pictorial portfolio.
Then there's the time when Brazzi encounters a very religious young lady who is trying to atone for her sins. With an adroit turn of phrase, he suggests to her that it's not worth asking forgiveness unless one has committed a really heinous sin - and what more heinous sin could one commit than fornication? So - amid mortifying whippings and bearing of crosses - the provocative pilgrim is plucked, and the master of love and his pupil score yet again. Already, Master of Love has broken box office records in Italy, and has been dubbed for release in English in the United States and Britain, where this 'erotic Italianate romp is expected to make something of a cinematic killing.
Executive producer Weitzman said about it: "Certainly it's irreverent, and there's no doubt that Brunello Rondi is a master of religious satire, but it's all done with humor." He cites as an example of the movie's comedy a little ditty that priests and wedding guests sing as Barbara Bouchet walks up the aisle - a ditty which, loosely translated into English, runs as follows:- "Yummy, yummy, yummy, St Lummy put a baby in her tummy." Well, maybe it sounds better in the original Italian.
Master of Love, incidentally, represents a major screen appearance for many of its actors. Carouchio the comedian, who has already built himself a huge reputation in Italy, will undoubtedly cement the foundations of his budding U.S. career with the release of Master in America. He has already won a large audience with his TV show "My Friend Tony", which is being shown on several United States networks. The film also marks a big step into the public eye for Ben Ekland, who although he hasn't had the publicity advantage of having been married to Peter Sellers, is establishing himself as a screen name as worthy as his more-than-worthy sister.
Weitzman added: "Of course it's got nudity in it, but nudity is as much of an enjoyment as anything else. It's not nudity that makes a film popular or successful - if that were so, there'd be thousands of successful films. I believe the thing that makes Master of Love work is that it's got strong acting, sometimes brilliant humor, and a good storyline." In other words, it's always fascinating to be shown how another man goes about attracting women, even if you don't agree with his technique.
Brazzi's technique is archetypically Italian - a mixture of subtlety, extremely fast talking, a slightly lunatic turn of mind and a refusal to be fazed by negative reactions. His fast-talking and inventiveness in Master often approaches the quasi-madness of Groucho Marx, who must have been the only man to offer a woman the opportunity to be the mother of her own children. His lessons are certainly not lost on his pupil, and by the end of the film, as Brazzi decides that to expire in the arms of the outrageously beautiful Lady Death must be the best way to go, Ben Ekland is sufficiently versed in the arts of eroticism to take over his role as seductive supremo.
"You can see why Rossano rather fancies dying," Weitzman remarked laconically. "Lady Death, in my humble personal opinion, is something else." For those with less necrophiliac tastes, the film offers a plentiful supply of more lively sirens, all insuffiently attired in such costumes as a see-through mini-shift, a nun's cowl and nothing else, and nothing else. For the female audience, too, there's plenty to look at. Maturer women have the opportunity of seeing the nudest Rossano Brazzi, and girls with less of a predilection for older men can savor the full-effrontary of Mr Ekland.
Apart from churches and nunneries, the locale for the master's many seductions is as full of variety as a 10-day tour of Europe and Asia. Girls are gleefully exploited in barns, baths, orchards, fields and streams - a pictorial lesson in the importance of changes in environment in sexual relationships. After witnessing the erotic catholicism of Master of Love, the living room carpet, with "The Beverly Hillbillies" looking on from the TV, will never seem so exciting again. As Brazzi said: "Of course a great deal of the film is comedy, but I think there's truth in it as well. The only reason that things are funny is because they're true, and so maybe some people will learn from the film as well as laugh." Brazzi's audience won't be the only ones amused: he himself sees the film as an important fresh development in his career, and he is already negotiating to make a whole plethora of new movies, including one with Marcello Mastroianni and Cubby (James Bond) Broccoli.
"I am working as hard now as I ever have," he reported. "The master of love keeps himself fit playing tennis, you see." Brazzi's only recent disappointment was his brush with The Godfather. He was discussing the possibility of playing the lead role, but before shooting began, the part was offered to Marlon Brando. He hopes to put in as challenging a performance when he gets down to his own Mafia movie. "I like roles in which one has to invest plenty of energy," he said. There is little doubt that energy is something that is liberally expended in Master of Love, since lessons of love are not easily learned. As Brazzi demonstrates, an old dog may not be able to learn any new tricks, but he can show a young one where to find his tail."