Leonardo Benvenuti, Renato Castellani, Piero De Bernardi, and Tonino Guerra adapted the film from Eduardo De Filippo‘s play Filumena Marturano.
Filumena Marturano had already been adapted for the screen in Argentina in 1950.
Title in English: “Filumena Marturano: A Tale of Love, Deception, and Family” (Original: “Filumena Marturano”)
“Filumena Marturano” is a compelling narrative set in post-World War II Italy, revolving around the complex relationship between Domenico Soriano, a wealthy, womanizing baker, and Filumena Marturano, a former prostitute. Their relationship, spanning over twenty years, began during the war when Soriano first encountered Filumena during a bombing raid and later moved her from a brothel to his apartment, and eventually to his home to care for his elderly mother. He kept her as a mistress, offering financial support and comfort but never committing to a deeper relationship.
Filumena endured Soriano’s infidelity and emotional distance, suffering from the lack of respect and recognition in their relationship. After the death of Soriano’s mother, Filumena sought to solidify their relationship through marriage, but Soriano, valuing his freedom, refused.
When Soriano planned to marry a young cashier from his bakery, Filumena, in a desperate move, feigned illness and requested last rites, expressing her dying wish to marry Soriano. A priest, aware of their long-standing relationship, convinced Soriano to marry her in a gesture of goodwill. However, after the ceremony, Filumena miraculously recovered, leaving everyone shocked.
Filumena’s actions were not driven by selfish motives but by a desire to secure a future and a legitimate name for her three grown children, fathered during her time as a prostitute. Soriano had been unaware of their existence, as Filumena had used his financial support to raise them secretly. Her aim was to unite the children with Soriano and herself into one family.
Upon learning of Filumena’s past and her reasons, Soriano hastened to annul the marriage, citing deception. Filumena, heartbroken but resolute, revealed her past to her children and signed the annulment papers in front of Soriano. She also disclosed that one of her sons was Soriano’s biological child but refused to identify which one, to protect the others from discrimination.
As Soriano grappled with the possibility of having an heir and reflected on his past and his relationship with Filumena, he realized the importance of family values. In a transformative decision, he married Filumena, accepting all three of her children as his own, thus embracing the family that had been with him all along.