La moglie del prete
by Dino Risi


Italy - November 19, 1970 - La moglie del prete - 108'
USA (New York, Trans-Lux Theater) - February 26, 1971 - The Priest's Wife - 106'
France (Paris) - March 3, 1971 - La femme du prêtre - 107'
West Germany - March 26, 1971 - Die Frau des Priesters - 109'
Spain - 1971 - La mujer del cura -

Italian poster Italian poster French poster


Valeria Billi, a former Neapolitan singer, decides to end her life because of a romantic disappointment, but before doing 50 she resorts to phoning ‘Voice of Friendship’. An anonymous priest answers and tries to dissuade her from her intention. He is unsuccessful, but Valeria is saved nonetheless and, her curiosity aroused, she wants to meet the man who spoke so kindly to her. Disappointed at first when she learns that he is a priest, the girl is not discouraged, and meets with him several times until, having fallen in love with him, she succeeds in making him fall in love in return. The priest wants to leave the ministry, and even meets Valeria ‘5 parents while waiting for his dispensation. He is invited to Rome but instead of receiving the expected dispensation, he is named a monsignor. Valeria joins him, and finds him much changed, if not in his feelings certainly in his intentions. And when he proposes that she become his secret lover, she leaves him with disappointment, hiding the fact that she is expecting his child. (Enrico Lancia)
Story: Ruggero Maccari, Dino Risi, Bernardino Zapponi


Padua, Abano Terme, Livorno (Italy)

Cosmopolitan Studios, Tirrenia (Italy)

Filming dates: April through June 1970


Sophia Loren (Valeria Billi)
Marcello Mastroianni (don Mario Carlisi)
Venantino Venantini (Maurizio)
Jacques Stany (Jimmy, the guitarist)
Miranda Campa (Margherita Billi)


Photography (Eastmancolor):
Alfio Contini
Armando Trovajoli
Sophia's Makeup Artist:
Giuseppe Annunziata

Still photographer:
Tazio Secchiaroli
Carlo Ponti for c.c. Champion, (Rome)
Productions Editions Cinématographiques Françaises (Paris)


Pope Paul VI's former cook, Armando Carzanita, is hired to play a chef in the film.

One day, a couple of priests force their way onto the set by invoking their right to check out the authenticity of any scene with a church building in the background.

The church authorities in Padua are hostile to the movie, condemning it in Sunday sermons and in editorials in the parish newspapers. Hundreds of complaints are received from the public over the extras hired to portray priests and black-robed students at Mastroianni's seminary. (Harris)

 Despite sporadic bans, many denunciations, and mixed notices, The Priest's Wife flourished at box offices around the world and was even shown in Italy with only two scenes deleted.

Ruggero Macari and Dino Risi had at first thought of Monica Vitti for the lead role of Valeria Billi.

Last film to be shot at Ponti's studio in Tirrenia.


"A remarkable woman... as beautiful as a statue. Wonderful eyes of course, but the mouth, a little wide, don't you think?"
er Sampers of the Convent of St. Alphonso, in Sophia by Donald Zec.

Miss Loren and Mastroianni, the Turner and Gable of the 1960's, are, separately, elegant, popular performers and, when together, doing high comedy or low slap-stick, they are a team of marvelous style
Vincent Canby, New York TImes, 27 feb 1971

"I was looking for a story that was be different from the tradional Italian comedy but at the same time that focused on a fact of modern society. The story was proposed to me during the shooting of Sunflower. I liked it right away."
Sophia Loren

"Sexy Sophia Loren and pious Marcello Mastroianni have box office chemistry. Both are excellent performers and have proved themselves as capable comedians. So why then isn't "The Priest's Wife" funny? (...) Poor Sophia Loren turns into a shrew, a vulgar, cheap, immoral
tart. And handsome Mastroianni comes off as a total square (not like the swinging priests I know) who doesn't have the guts to resist her obvious and purely physical advances but acts the puritan."
Barbara Bladen, The Times, 22 mar 1971

Copyrights for all photos belong to their respective owners.
© Excelsior Communication - 2007

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