by Franz Antel
The Viking who became a Bigamist is a generally enjoyable feature film that undoubtedly entertains, thanks also to the – often deliberately exaggerated – contrast between Italian and German culture. Yet, precisely because of an excessively weak screenplay, it is often predictable and banal.
Between Rome and Munich
For some people, marriage undoubtedly represents something highly stressful. Yet, if already having to deal with one wife (or husband) is often rather complicated, the situation is taken even further to the extreme if someone has two wives. The railwayman Vittorio Coppa (played by the great Lando Buzzanca), the protagonist of the feature film The Viking who became a Bigamist, directed in 1969 by Franz Antel (here credited as François Legrand) and the result of a co-production between Italy, Austria, Germany and Hungary, knows something about this.
Vittorio, therefore, travels for work every three days between Rome and Munich. In Rome he is officially married to Teresa (played by Raffaella Carrà), while in Munich to Ingrid (Teri Tordai). Obviously none of the two are aware of the other and the man manages to lead a serene life and make each of them happy. Things, however, become complicated when, after revealing his secret to a doctor, Vittorio begins to get nervous and make many small mistakes, often risking being discovered both by his two wives and his brother-in-law.
Vittorio, therefore, is always in a hurry. It is not easy for him to make everything work. Likewise, frenetic editing and dynamic direction well represent his particular situation. We can notice this from the very first minutes, when we see the protagonist running from one flat to another, while often taking the train.
The Viking who became a Bigamist, therefore, stages a paradoxical situation, giving life to a character who, according to clichés, should fully reflect the canons of the Italian Latin lover, extremely close to his family, but who, unfortunately, cannot renounce women. Lando Buzzanca, for his part, gives us, as always, an excellent performance, carrying almost the entire feature film on his shoulders. An overall enjoyable feature film that undoubtedly entertains, thanks also to the – often deliberately exaggerated – contrast between Italian and German culture. Yet, precisely because of an excessively weak screenplay, even our protagonist is somehow ‘penalised’.
The story staged here undoubtedly starts from an interesting idea. Yet, despite this, everything develops according to a fundamentally simple and banal script, in which even the subplots are almost inexistent and contribute to making The Viking who became a Bigamist a dangerously predictable feature film, which in comparison to other Italian and Austrian comedy classics made in those same years, shows a decidedly weak personality. It is no coincidence, therefore, that several years after it was made, The Viking who became a Bigamist is not remembered by many. An interesting idea is often not enough to make an entire feature film work. And often, unfortunately, not even actors like Lando Buzzanca or the great Fritz Muliar (here in the role of the customs officer Johann) manage to save the day. What a pity.
Original title: Warum hab ich bloß 2 x ja gesagt?
Directed by: Franz Antel
Country/year: Italy, Austria, Germany, Hungary / 1969
Running time: 99’
Cast: Lando Buzzanca, Raffaella Carrà, Teri Tordai, Peter Weck, Ann Smyrner, Jacques Herlin, Edith Hancke, Andrea Rau, Fritz Muliar, Rainer Basedow, Judith Dornys, Franco Giacobini, Barbara Zimmermann, Heinz Erhardt
Screenplay: Günter Ebert, Mario Guerra, Kurt Nachmann, Vittorio Vighi
Cinematography: Hanns Matula
Produced by: Fida Cinematografica, Terra-Filmkunst