Director: Neri Parenti
Code Red Releasing

Italian TV John Travolta impersonator Giuseppe Spezia takes his act to celluloid as THE FACE WITH TWO LEFT FEET, an obscure Alfredo Leone production out on DVD for the first time from Code Red Releasing.

Hotel cook Johnny (Spezia) has been frequenting the discotheque – which also apparently hosts swing dancing – “John’s Fever” out of longing for the pretty DJ/dancer Ilona (actress/singer-turned-pornstar-turned-politician Ilona Staller aka Cicciolina), but he’s a klutz and can’t dance. His friends – and fellow hotel co-workers – force him to introduce himself to Ilona with disastrous results, and he is thrown out of the club by its owner Mr. Raoul (Angelo Infanti, BLACK EMANUELLE). When hotel porter Red (actor/stuntman Massimo Vanni, ZOMBI 3) plays a prank on John Travolta-obsessed switchboard operator Deborah (Gloria Piedimonte, NAZI LOVE CAMP 27) and draws a mustache on her Travolta poster, the group realize that Johnny is a dead ringer for Travolta. They try to convince him that posing as the star might be a way to get back into the club and win Ilona, but Johnny resolves to forget Ilona. When Ilona and Raoul show up at the hotel restaurant and Raoul humiliates him, Johnny agrees to their cockeyed scheme. Hotel salon manicurist Deborah (Sonia Viviani, NIGHTMARE CITY) convinces her boss Alvin (Franco Agostini, THE CASE OF THE BLOODY IRIS) – who is only gay at work – not only to help her transform Johnny, but to also pose as his manager, while Deborah tries in vain to teach him how to dance. When the real Travolta (never seen from the bellbottomed legs upwards) to show up at the hotel, it takes some deft and comical maneuvers not only to keep Johnny and Travolta’s entourage from seeing each other, but also to “borrow” the star’s Rolls Royce and pet dog to complete the image.

The SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER cash-in (the gang even go to see it in the theater, although no footage appears onscreen), THE FACE WITH TWO LEFT FEET was the writing and directorial debut of director Neri Parenti, who had previously served as assistant director under Pasquale Festa Campanile (HITCH HIKE with David Hess) and Steno (AMORI MIEI with Monica Vitti). Its broad comedy is not particularly funny for much of the film’s running time, but it does pick up in the third act with a “choreographed” club brawl between Johnny’s friends and Raoul’s gang. The love story aspect also gets a bit more poignant when Ilona – having realized that Johnny isn’t Travolta – tries to explain to him the difference between illusion and reality (where she’s just “a girl with long hair” and he’s only a cook), and Johnny resolves to show her that happy endings can happen. The subplot in which concierge Caruso (Enzo Cannavale, CINEMA PARADISO) thinks he is going crazy because he keeps seeing Travoltas where there are none does provide some additional laughs, but the film is more interesting as a portrait of the disco scene in Italy before the Italo disco of the 1980s (although the film may actually be distorting it in its reverence for the Travolta film). The disco choreography isn’t particularly dynamic (although Piedimonte – who was a dancer on the Italian music show DISCORING – has some nice moves), and the grating score by Paolo Vasile (THE SQUEEZE) tries to imitate the Bee Gees (particularly “Stayin’ Alive”) but does not feature any of Staller’s own disco singles. Claudio Bigagli (NIGHT OF THE SHOOTING STARS) and Italian TV actor Massimo Giuliani (THE SUNDAY WOMAN) Adriana Russo (THE MURDER SECRET) also appear as part of Johnny’s gang.

Apparently – and understandably – unreleased theatrically in the United States, THE FACE WITH TWO LEFT feet comes to Code Red DVD in a colorful and only faintly-blemished progressive, anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) transfer. The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track is quite vibrant when it comes to the music, and the post-dubbed dialogue is also cleanly rendered. The opening credits sequence appears to have been shortened (presumably by rights owner/print provider Leone), with only Spezia, Staller, Piedimonte, and director Parenti credited (the end titles feature no credits for the cinematographer, editor, writers, or production/costume designers, but they do list every song featured in the film including one co-written by Goblin’s Claudio Simonetti). There is no trailer for the film, but there are trailers for the backwoods slasher JUST BEFORE DAWN, RAW FORCE, the Spanish chiller THE VAMPIRE’S NIGHT ORGY (available from Code Red in a double feature with the Paul Naschy vehicle DR. JEKYLL AND THE WEREWOLF), Arthur Marks’ CLASS OF ’74 (on disc with GABRIELLA, GABRIELLA, the film from which it heavily recycles footage), and the eighties rock comedy SPLITZ, as well as a start-up trailer for FAMILY HONOR. (Eric Cotenas)