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Black Journal
Theatrical release poster
ItalianGran bollito
Directed byMauro Bolognini
Screenplay byNicola Badalucco
Story by
Produced bySandra Riccardi Infascelli
CinematographyArmando Nannuzzi
Edited byNino Baragli
Music byEnzo Jannacci
Distributed byProduzioni Atlas Consorziate
Release date
  • October 1977 (1977-10)
Running time
112 minutes
BudgetL.1.9 billion[1]
($2 million)[1]
Box officeL.480 million[2]

Black Journal (Italian: Gran bollito, lit.'Large bollito') is a 1977 Italian black comedy film[1][3] directed by Mauro Bolognini. It is loosely based on real-life serial killer Leonarda Cianciulli, who killed three women between 1939 and 1940, and turned their bodies into soap and teacakes.[4] It stars Shelley Winters, Max von Sydow, Renato Pozzetto and Alberto Lionello, with the latter three in a dual role as both the victims of the killer, in drag, and those who apprehend her.[4][5]

In the film, a middle-aged mother is convinced that she can keep her only son safe and in her custody by offering human sacrifices to Death. After having already killed three victims, she plans further sacrifices to protect her son from the perceived threat of military service.

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Lea, a mature Neapolitan woman who runs a lotto box office in a northern Italian city, had thirteen children, but all but one died from abortion or after a few months of life. Her only surviving child, Michele, receives Lea's morbid affection: she is convinced that she has stolen him from Death by negotiating with it, so she is not willing to sell him either to the army or to another woman.

When Michele gets engaged to a beautiful dance teacher, his mother, to avoid separation, makes a new sacrifice to Death, killing three spinster friends, from whom she makes soap and biscuits. The call to military service arrives for her son: to make him return home, Lea would like to multiply her sacrificial rites, targeting, this time, a mute servant and Michele's hated girlfriend. The carabinieri will stop her on time.



Mauro Bolognini was originally going to direct the film 15 years earlier, with Anna Magnani in the lead role.[6][7] Later, he envisioned Sophia Loren as the leading actress.[7] The film had several working titles from 1976 to 1977, including Black Journal, La cuoca del diavolo, Sapone di donna, Donne all'interno, La saponificatrice and La signora degli orrori.[3][4][7][8]

Ornella Muti was cast as the girlfriend of Lea's son,[4] but dropped out in June 1977 and was replaced by Laura Antonelli.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d "Laura per la Cianciulli" [Laura for Cianciulli]. La Stampa (in Italian). No. 136. 21 June 1977. p. 7. Retrieved 5 October 2020.
  2. ^ Poppi, Roberto; Pecorari, Mario (1991). Dizionario del cinema italiano: I film. Vol. 4/1: Dal 1970 al 1979. A-L (in Italian). Rome: Gremese Editore. p. 346. ISBN 8876059350.
  3. ^ a b Antonelli, Lamberto (13 April 1977). "Cianciulli americana" [American Cianciulli]. Stampa Sera (in Italian). p. 21. Retrieved 5 October 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d Enrico, Baldo (8 April 1977). "La Cianciulli in un film di Bolognini: vittime Renato, Lionello e Von Sydow" [Cianciulli in a Bolognini film: Renato, Lionello and Von Sydow as her victims]. La Stampa (in Italian). No. 73. p. 16. Retrieved 5 October 2020.
  5. ^ Jelardi, Andrea, ed. (2009). In scena en travesti: il travestitismo nello spettacolo italiano (in Italian). Rome: Libreria Croce. p. 145. ISBN 978-8864020099.
  6. ^ Enrico, Baldo (22 March 1977). "Donati, l'uomo che veste i personaggi di Fellini" [Donati, the man who dresses Fellini's characters]. La Stampa (in Italian). No. 59. p. 7. Retrieved 5 October 2020.
  7. ^ a b c Antonelli, Lamberto (29 December 1976). "Per la Cianciulli vorrei Sophia..." [For Cianciulli's role I'd want Sophia...]. Stampa Sera (in Italian). p. 16. Retrieved 5 October 2020.
  8. ^ "Fantasmi e mafiosi nei film dell'inverno" [Ghosts and mafiosos in winter's films]. Stampa Sera (in Italian). 11 October 1977. p. 20. Retrieved 5 October 2020.

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This page was last edited on 25 May 2024, at 23:36
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