Movie Fan Man: Cinema Connoisseur

Traditional, Artsy, Genre-Within-Genre: A Little Something for Everyone

A Sex Comedy with Good Story and Acting

Nello Rossati’s The Nurse

by Tony Nash

(all opinions are of the author alone)

(Spoilers will follow)

(Note: Due to the nudity in the film, the same stills might be used to avoid problems)

Image result for Ursula Andress in L’Infermiera

L’Infermiera (The Sensuous Nurse/The Nurse) (1975) NC-17 ***

Ursula Andress: Anna

Duilio Del Prete: Benito Varotto

Mario Pisu: Leonida Bottacin

Luciana Paluzzi: Jole Scarpa

Daniele Vargas: Gustavo Scarpa

Jack Palance: Mr. Kitch

Stefano Sabelli: Adone Scarpa

Carla Romanelli: Tosca Floria Zanin

Lino Toffolo: Giovanni Garbin

Marina Confalone: Italia Varotto

Attilio Duse: Doctor Pavan

Written by: Claudia Florio, Roberto Gianviti, Nello Rossati, & Paolo Vidali

Directed by: Nello Rossati

Synopsis: Greedy American businessman Mr. Kitch is interested in a piece of land in Italy’s wine country, but the old school Leonida Bottacin won’t sell. When the old man has a heart attack while engaging in a less than indiscreet liaison with a servant, his scheming nephews and their wives plot to put him in the grave permanently. Bottacin’s fondness for young voluptuous women inspires his one nephew to hire Anna, a Swiss German nurse with a Venus De Milo figure, in the hopes she’ll induce the “dirty old man” to have a second fatal heart attack. The plan gets monkey-wrenched when Anna falls for Bottacin.

While most “Sex Comedies” tend to rely purely on raunchiness and dirty jokes to be popular, L’Infermiera breaks the mold by having a good story and a fine, if zany, cast of characters. While still containing a good amount of crude humor, crude jokes, and heavily suggestive dialogues and situations, the film manages to not go over the top with them and comes off as merely the overtly eccentric ways of a family and their servants who live in a kind of isolation in the wine country. Inspired by easily foiled murder plot comedies, audiences are in a constant state of hysterics and disbelief as the relatives of an old man with a highly active libido tries to kill him so they can sell the land of the family winery to an unscrupulous real estate businessman from the States for a quick profit. Adding to the madcap shenanigans is that while the old timer is clearly suffering, his overtly active mojo isn’t letting his heart give out that easily and he’s somehow clinging to life. To make things feel much more like a Looney Toons cartoon or something out of a comic strip, the family members themselves and their servants are shown engaging in various acts of vice and marital infidelity, all with everyone knowing about it and not caring. Thinking the old man’s dream woman would be the key to his demise, a nurse who had a dalliance with the smart nephew of the family is brought in with the promise of a percentage of the money from the sale and of the old man’s savings, but in a move that gives integrity and heart to the film is the nurse’s slow and gradual feelings of romance towards her target, and with the aid of the grandson, she decides to foil the plot.

Related image

Ursula Andress, the first ever Bond girl, by the mid-seventies was teetering between being a sex symbol and a matron style character actress, proved she still had what it takes to turn heads in the role of Anna. Spending some time on screen wearing little to nothing at all, Anna is able to turn the heads of all the men of the house, and incites extreme jealousy from the mousy wives who wish their infirmed uncle in law would just kick the bucket already. What Andress brings to Anna’s character to make her different, is that she doesn’t like men trying to cop a feel all the time, in spite of her being very beautiful and alluring. While she doesn’t mind having meaningless dalliances, her prospects for a life long partner are that he would love her for her mind and face, and not just her body. Old Man Bottican’s willingness to respect her boundaries even though his desires are screaming at him to do something is what turns Anna from a willing conspirator into a crusader to save the man who she’s come to love. Not above using her body and wiles to aid her in getting the evidence to help Bottican throw his ingrate relations out what ensues is a chaotic comic insanity in figuring out what is really going on. Andress proves she’s as lovely as always and gets some really good lines and an interesting character who isn’t just a pretty face.

Related image

Mario Pisu, a fairly reputable Italian character actor, is a scream as the gentlemanly and lecherous Leonida Bottacin. Normally with characters like Bottacin who have escapades with every pretty face, viewers would be inclined to not like them because they have no decency or morals, but with Bottacin himself, it’s different. Pisu plays Bottacin as a likeable fellow who would never try anything on a woman unless she asked him to. Bottacin is a widower whose loneliness at having survived his loving though somewhat boorish wife has led him to seek out much female companionship. When nature decides Bottacin is having a little too much fun, he’s given a coronary that leaves him bedridden and delirious. Pisu then takes audiences on a wild ride as he has Bottacin mumble and say only a few words, all of which would only be acceptable in the boudoir and sailor friendly bars. Pisu’s acting has the audience feeling sympathetic towards Bottacin as he’s only trying to find happiness until he sees his wife again in Heaven and is clearly not the “love ‘em and leave ‘em” playboy type, showing his lovers a type of respect they should be treated with. Since he has limits and clearly wouldn’t do things that go against his upbringing, audiences can like Bottacin and not feel like they’re condoning his bizarre way of filling the void of his late wife.

Image result for Jack Palance in the nurse

Related image

The most unique and unusual bits of casting are of iconic American character actor Jack Palance and Italian character actress Luciana Paluzzi, another famous Bond girl. Palance has a small, but memorable appearance as Mr. Kitch, an American tycoon looking to extend his holdings into the Italian countryside. The antics of Bottacin’s nephew Benito amuse, but also baffle Kitch as he’s shown to not have a total understanding of how Italians transact business. Like any businessman, American or otherwise, Kitch is played up as only caring if the deal for the land can go through, and is totally uninterested in the difficulties in getting Uncle Bottacin to kick the bucket, though he does tell Benito to use any means, even if they’re criminal. Paluzzi plays Jole, a woman married to one of Bottacin’s nephews, and having an affair with the other. Paluzzi totally plays against type from a calm and cool exotic beauty, to a neurotic and ever-constantly shouting henpecked wife. That she does the part so well makes her even more of an underrated actress, as she makes the character fit. A scene where she starts throwing objects and her clothes at her lover in a frustrated tizzy shows what Paluzzi could do with any part. That she does that scene partially nude as well shows her willingness to take chances with scenes that could make or break a performer, and still looks very beautiful in the process.

Image result for Ursula Andress in the nurse

An interesting point to mention is that one of the writers of the script for the film was a woman. That a female was responsible for some of the humor and plot of the film makes things a little less dirty and a little more fun to watch. While it’s hard to tell who wrote what in terms of story, humor, and characters, that a woman was involved in the behind the scenes aspect shows the film could’ve been a lot dirtier than what it already was.

Image result for Ursula Andress in the nurse

Full of innuendo in dialogue and situations, and nearly non-stop risqué humor, the plot and characters of the film helps it to rise above the status of a “dirty” comedy, making it a piece all its own. While there are many moments in the film that would call for uncomfortable laughter, especially in mixed company, when looked at as merely a glimpse at a different culture’s interpretation of what is or isn’t smut makes the viewing experience a little more interesting and intriguing. Definitely for select tastes and those curious for something totally different from anything they’ve seen, L’Infermiera is a  piece of filmmaking that defies categorization what people should call it, but is for certain different than the films that came before it and has not been repeated since.

(While I do recommend giving the film a chance as its story and acting are much better then the trailers and posters make it out to be, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, and might take the right temperament or mood to view it with an open mind. The NC-17 rating is my own and while the IMDB does list it as rated R, the amount of nudity and sexually explicit dialogue and situations should definitely only be seen by those 18 or older. I, and many others don’t see it as soft-porn, but I could see why others would. The Shameless Entertainment DVD is quite good in transfer and audio, including both the original Italian language soundtrack and the English dub, which includes Ursula Andress and Jack Palance’s own voices.)

All images courtesy of Images and their respective owners

For more information

IMDB/The Sensuous Nurse

Wikipedia/The Sensuous Nurse

If you would like to support Shameless directly:


Filed under: Film: Analysis/Overview

%d bloggers like this: