Cast & Crew
During the mid-fourteenth century, Giovanni Boccaccio, the easy-going author of ribald tales, rides into Florence as it is being overrun by the Duke of Lorenzo's army. When Boccaccio, who is searching for Fiametta, a beautiful noblewoman with whom he is in love, learns from the passing Contessa de Firenze that she and Fiametta are living in a country villa, he begs to be taken there. The countess refuses, noting that despite being recently widowed, Fiametta still rejects him. Later, Fiametta, the countess and the other young women living at the villa are startled when Boccaccio shows up at their door, having escaped arrest in Florence. Fiametta at first turns him away, but relents after he offers to tell them stories and promises not to flirt.
At dinner, Boccaccio relates his first story: In a Spanish seaside villa, beautiful Bartolomea becomes increasingly frustrated by her old, rich husband Ricciardo, whose obsession with astrology controls every aspect of their lives. One day, while on an astrologically advantageous fishing trip, Bartolomea is kidnapped by pirate Paganino, who assesses her worth based on Ricciardo's wealth. Having sent Ricciardo a message to come to Majorca in three weeks with 50,000 florins in ransom, Paganino sails off with Bartolomea. During the voyage, Paganino saves Bartolomea from two lecherous sailors, then thrills her with a passionate kiss. Shortly after arriving in Majorca, Paganino, who has planned to share the ransom with the island's corrupt governor, meets Ricciardo. When Ricciardo refuses to pay for Bartolomea's return and demands Paganino's arrest, the governor laughs at him. Bartolomea, having fallen in love with Paganino, then denies being married to Ricciardo and as proof, asks him the color of her eyes in the dark. When Ricciardo cannot answer, the governor arrests him as an imposter. Later, Paganino vows to give up piracy and become Bartolomea's faithful husband. Back at the dinner table, Fiametti dismisses Boccaccio's tale as immoral, but the other women are delighted and demand more.
Thirty tales and many days later, Fiametta scolds Boccaccio for telling only stories that mock virtue and insists on relating one of her own: After betting well-to-do Bernabo 5,000 florins that he can seduce Bernabo's young wife Ginerva and bring him indisputable proof of his deed within a month, the rakish Guilio sets off for Ginerva's house. For two weeks, Ginerva turns him away, so in desperation, Guilio bribes her maid, Nerina, to let him into her bedroom one night. While Ginerva sleeps, Guilio cuts a lock of her hair and steals a necklace containing Bernabo's portrait. Later, when Guilio presents his evidence, Bernabo refuses to believe him until Guilio describes a birthmark on Ginerva's shoulder. Furious, Bernabo hires two men to murder Ginerva, but Ginerva's calm in the face of death so unnerves the killers that they cannot go through with the deed. Instead, they bloody Ginerva's clothes and send her, half-naked, on her way. Soon after, Ginerva steals a sailor's clothes and poses as a seaman. During one voyage, Ginerva and her talking parrot attract the attention of a sultan, who buys them both. Later, while still disguised as a man, Ginerva notices Bernabo's locket in a marketplace stall and cajoles the proprietor, Guilio, to tell her how he came by it. Guilio admits that after Bernabo had Ginerva killed, he became a broken man and now works for him. Ginerva slips away before Bernabo spots her but arranges for the two men to dine at the sultan's palace. During their visit, a disguised Ginerva serves Bernabo and Guilio, then meets secretly with Guilio in feminine attire. After Guilio claims repeatedly not to know Ginerva, Bernabo and the sultan, having eavesdropped on their conversation, reveal themselves. Guilio is exposed as a lying rogue, and Bernabo reunites with a forgiving Ginerva.
Back at the villa, Fiametti proudly concludes her story, but Boccaccio is unimpressed and begins another: Having been sent by the Spanish court to fetch a doctor for the ailing King, handsome playboy Don Bertrando arrives at the home of Isabella de Marco. Bertrando is startled when Isabella states that she is the physician he is seeking and escorts her with great reluctance. Along the way, Bertrando defeats two highwaymen intent on robbing them, and Isabella is greatly impressed by his bravery. At the palace, Isabella cures the King, who then grants her any request. To the court's shock, Isabella demands that Bertrando marry her. Following the ceremony, however, Bertrando abandons Isabella, declaring that he will live with her only after she obtains his wedding ring and bears him a child. Later, a determined Isabella goes to an inn where Bertrando reportedly has been seducing the innkeeper's daughter Maria. There, Isabella pays the innkeeper, Signora Bucca, to send a note to Bertrando, requesting that he come to Maria's room that night. When Bertrando arrives for the tryst, Maria's room is dark, and he unwittingly makes love to Isabella. The next morning, Isabella leaves the inn with Bertrando's ring, and nine months later, after her son is born, sends for Bertrando. At first, Bertrando denies that the infant is his, stating that Isabella is too cold and clinical to have fooled him. After Isabella gives him a passionate kiss, however, Bertrando realizes the truth and happily embraces his wife.
Back at the villa, Fiametti again is critical of Boccaccio's story, despite its depiction of a faithful wife. Fed up, Boccaccio declares he is leaving, but soon changes his mind and storms into Fiametti's bedroom to kiss her. Confronted with Boccaccio's ardor, Fiametti finally gives in and kisses him back.
Diaz De Mendoza
M. J. Frankovich
Fred C. Gunn
Although not mentioned in the film itself, reviews and the CBCS give the titles of the three depicted tales as "Paganino the Pirate," "Wager for Virtue" and "The Doctor's Daughter." In addition to Il decamarone, Giovanni Boccaccio wrote Elegia de Madonna Fiammetta (also known as the Fiammetta), a prose work inspired by Boccaccio's failed romance with Maria d'Aquino, a Neopolitan aristocrat on whom Joan Fontaine's character is based. Fontaine's character name is spelled "Fiametta" in the onscreen credits.
The film's opening credits are preceded by footage showing Louis Jourdan, as "Boccaccio," riding into Florence in the midst of a siege. The following written statement is superimposed over the footage: "During the fourteenth century Italy was overrun by mercenary armies and local warfare was constantly being waged. This story tells how Giovanni Boccaccio, teller of bawdy tales, was convinced by the lady he loves that virtue triumphs over evil. The citizens of Florence are fleeing while the city is being besieged by a mercenary army. Only Boccaccio dares enter the city in search of the woman he loves." In the closing credits, the first five players are listed with character names, followed by a list of supporting players not included in the opening credits. George Bernard and Bert Bernard are listed as "George and Bert Bernard" in the opening credits.
Contemporary sources add the following information about the production: Peter Ustinov was slated to appear in the picture with Jourdan, and reportedly worked on "late drafts" of the script. Ustinov's contribution to the final script, if any, has not been determined. Most of the film was shot in Spain, including Madrid, Seville, Majorca, Granada, Segovia and Avila. Filming also took place in Florence, Italy. Interiors were shot at the Gate Studios in Elstree, England. American producer M. J. Frankovich, who was married to Binnie Barnes, hired a multinational crew to work on the film. The picture opened in London on January 13, 1953, at a listed running time of 93 minutes. Eros Films, Ltd. distributed the film in Great Britain. For its American release, the film was cut to approximately 85 minutes. Decameron Nights was the first production of Film Locations, Ltd. and the only production of Frankovich's company, Amerit Film Corp. In May 1958, Frankovich and Amerit sued RKO for $425,000, claiming that the studio failed to use its best efforts to distribute the picture. The disposition of the suit is not known.
Many other versions of Boccaccio's tales have been filmed, including a 1911 Italian version, Decamerone, directed by Gennaro Righelli and starring his wife, Maria Righelli; a 1924 British version, Decameron Nights, directed by Herbert Wilcox and starring Lionel Barrymore and Ivy Duke; Boccaccio 70, a 1962 Italian film, directed by Luchino Visconti, Frederico Fellini and Vittorio De Sica and starring Anita Ekberg; Bambole, a 1965 Royal Films International release, starring Nino Manfredi and Virna Lisi; and Il decamerone, Pier Pasolini's 1971 film, starring Franco Citti. Boccaccio's stories also inspired many sex films in the 1960s and 1970s. Another film feature adaptation of the stories, produced by Dino De Laurentiis and starring Mischa Barton, began production in spring 2005.
Released in United States on Video 1987
Released in United States on Video 1987