Movie Mirrors Index

Full of Life

(1956 b 91')

En: 6 Ed: 6

John Fante adapted his own novel about a young couple who are having a baby. When the kitchen floor collapses, they asks his Italian father to come and repair it.

         Emily Rocco (Judy Holiday) gets out of bed and makes herself a sandwich. She turns on the light, waking up her husband Nick Rocco (Richard Conte). She sits on the bed in his room, and he rubs her back. She asks if something happened to her, would he get married again. She likes to learn about semantics, and she falls asleep. He is a writer and looks at the book.

         The maid Delia comes to work. Nick finds pregnant Emily sweeping the alley, and he tells her to go in the house. They discuss it and embrace. He pats her on the rear, and she tells him never to do it again. The neighbor Nora Gregory (Trudy Marshall) asks him if he is having trouble. Emily goes in the kitchen and makes another sandwich. She sees Nick talking with Nora and asks him to come in and help her. Emily asks him what Nora wanted. Emily wishes she had more sense of propriety. Emily asks if she was like that before. Nick goes out to the garage where he has an office to write. Emily talks to him on an intercom. He reads to her from his writing, and she calls the grocer for some eggs. He hears something happen, and the maid calls for him to come. He runs in and finds that Emily has fallen through the floor in the kitchen. He helps her out of the hole while the maid calls the doctor. Emily asks the doctor to come right away.

         Dr. Atchison (Sam Gilman) says her child is frisky and leaves. Nick complains about the floor on the telephone. She smokes a cigarette. Nick is grateful that she and the baby were not hurt. Emily says she is a burden, and he says that is nonsense. She says she is a cow; the grocer does not even notice her anymore. Nick says he will punch him in the nose. Nick and Emily kiss, and he says he has to call contractors to bid on the floor and goes out. Emily looks at herself in the mirror. Emily asks him to consider his father.

         A workman says he could do it for $1200. Emily says her father would not charge them. Nick says his father hates stucco houses. While they play chess, they discuss his father. He says they could get a second mortgage on the house. They decide to go see him.

         Mama Pauletta Rocco (Esther Minciotti) gets the mail and shows it to her husband Papa Vittorio Rocco (Salvatore Baccaloni). He dictates a letter to their son, and she writes. He asks his son to think of his mother. A taxi arrives, and Emily and Nick get out with two suitcases. Vittorio sees them, and she says it is eight months now. Nick goes in the house and greets his mother. She is happy and collapses in his arms. He lays her on a bed, and Emily gives her some water. Pauletta starts to talk, and Vittorio tells her to get up and fix dinner. Pauletta gets a hatchet for a chicken.

         The four are dining in the kitchen. Vittorio objects to Nick using the word “malarkey.” Vittorio tells Nick to help his mother. Vittorio and Emily walk outside. He asks her if Nick writes well. He says Nick does not need him anymore, but Emily says he does. She says Nick treats her well. In the kitchen Nick tells Pauletta how she fell through the floor. He says it will cost $1200, and he needs Papa to fix it. Nick asks her to tell Papa. She asks him to write, and he promises to do so once a week. Vittorio shows Emily the land “where everything grows.” He says he can build a place for them. She says it is a big step. Emily takes Nick in the house, and Pauletta tells Vittorio that they are in trouble. Emily asks Nick to tell Vittorio, but he says his mother is doing it. Vittorio knocks and tells Nick he bought the house without telling his Papa. He finds out it is stucco and slaps Nick.

         Later Nick and Emily wonder where Papa is. Mama says he took their money. Emily tells Nick that she likes it there. Nick would not like to be around his father, and Emily asks why he considers him a monster. Pauletta shows Emily her wedding dress, and she wants her to have it. Emily says she would never wear it. Pauletta says she could wear it when she gets married. Emily says they were married by a justice of the peace. She asks if Pauletta thinks they are living in sin. Nick says they are married and will stay that way.

         Joe arrives in a truck and takes Nick and Emily to find Vittorio. He is sitting under a tree and is drunk and talking to himself. Nick talks to him, and Vittorio tells him to go on. Emily says hello and helps him up. He says the floor hole has no business in her house.

         Vittorio puts his suitcase in the back of a truck. Nick and Emily say goodbye to Pauletta and Carla Rocco. Vittorio rides in the back of the truck. The three take a train, and Emily sees Nick looking at a pretty girl. Vittorio opens a suitcase and shows them the food Mama fixed. Nick puts the wine bottle back in the case, and Emily tells him to stop picking on his father. Nick goes to the dining car with the pretty woman.

         In the sleeping car Emily lays down on the bed and has trouble getting under the covers. Nick dries his hands and tells his Papa to go to bed. He tries to pull him up and fails. Nick tells the porter to bring Papa a blanket to sleep there. Nick asks Emily if she is all right. She asks if he had dinner with that woman, and he says of course not. Emily says she wanted to have a baby, but now she can hardly remember that. She says she wants to sit up, and she tells Nick to sleep there. She goes to sleep in the ladies room. Vittorio and Emily are asleep in their seats, and Nick says he slept well.

         A cab delivers them at the house, and they carry the bags in. Vittorio examines the fake fireplace. He looks around and asks for the toolkit. He asks for a pipe and shows how it rolls across the floor. Nick shows him the kitchen, and he removes the boards over the hole. Vittorio reminds him of a story, and Nick asks if he needs a helper.

         Vittorio is resting in a lawn chair. In the kitchen Emily pours more wine. Nick says he has not started yet after a week. Emily says she needs the car and drinks a glass of wine. Nick pours a cup of coffee and goes outside. He asks his Papa when he is going to fix the hole. Nick says he does not have time because he is writing a book. The maid tells Nick that his father is going home to Sacramento. Emily drives, stops the car, and sees Papa sitting on a bench. She asks him what happened and offers him a drink.

         Vittorio is drinking in the house and tells the story to Nick and Emily, and he dozes off. Nick says he never got to the bandits. Emily tells Nick he has to write the story because she promised him. Nick is writing, and Emily asks him how it is coming.

         In the kitchen Vittorio asks Emily about Nick. She says he worked until five in the morning. Vittorio asks her about the book she is reading. She says the table is not solid because of electrons. She says appearances are deceiving. She asks who she is and says she has many roles. Vittorio says she is a woman, a creator. He asks about the brothers and sisters who will come free. He says he does not see a Bible there. He wonders what his grandson will say. He asks if she will show him that book. She says she wants him to be like Papa. Nick comes in and presents the story of the bandits. Emily asks what he wants, and he says he is not hungry. He complains she has not read any of his writing for weeks. A delivery man brings in a case of wine. Nick signs for it and tells his father he cannot afford his liquor bill. The doorbell rings, and Father Gondolfo (Joe De Santis) comes in. He talks in Italian with Vittorio. Emily asks if he is from around there. Nick learns that their neighbors are Catholics. Gondolfo asks Emily what she is, and she says nothing. Nick says the world has changed. Vittorio tells Father Gondolfo to talk to Emily, and he asks Nick to go out with him. Emily says she would like to talk to the father.

         Nick and Vittorio go outside, and Nick asks what he is going to do with him. Nick says he wants to live his own life and plan his own family. He says there is no birth control in the Church. Nick says he cannot support too many. Father Gondolfo comes out with Emily and leaves. The three go back in the house. Emily tells Papa that she cannot become a Catholic because he wants her to. She says she wants God in her house, but she cannot change overnight. She says it takes time to change. She says a wedding could be arranged. Nick says he would have to go to confession, and he says no.

         That night Nick tells Emily he has a headache. Nick says he feels like he is being pushed. He says he used to love the Church when he was an altar boy. She asks if he is rebelling against parental authority. She says he can make an intelligent decision. She asks him what he wants. He says he has not been to confession in seven years, and she kisses him.

         Vittorio is working in the hole and singing. He says he needs a big hammer and goes to get one. Emily finds him smashing the wall over the fake fireplace. Nick comes home in the car and signs for a delivery of bricks and stone. His neighbor John Gregory asks him what they are for. Emily shows Nick his Papa working on the wall where he is going to put in a fireplace.

         Vittorio is building the fireplace. Emily shovels cement, and Nick takes over. Vittorio and Emily sing. Vittorio is finishing the fireplace on the roof, and Nick carries cement up there. They celebrate the completion of the fireplace.

         In the church Father Gondolfo performs the wedding ceremony with Nick and Emily as a few people watch. As they are walking outside, Emily feels a pain. They get in the car dragging tin cans and speed to the hospital. Vittorio helps Emily up the stairs. A doctor comes in with Emily and tells Nick it was a false alarm. Emily throws her wedding bouquet to a nurse.

         At home Emily tells Nick that he is most beautiful. She says it is time. He sees Papa sleeping and gets her things. She leaves a note and a bottle of wine for Papa.

         At the hospital Nick tells Emily that he loves her. Later a nurse says he can see his wife. Nick holds Emily’s hand, and she tells him to go away. Nick tells the doctor she is in bad shape. The doctor says she is all right. Nick asks where the chapel is and goes there. He prays. Vittorio arrives at the hospital and prays in the chapel too. He shows Nick a telegram, and Nick says someone bought his story of the bandits. Nick is paged. He and Papa look at the baby through a window. Papa says he will build another fireplace. Nick says he is going home. Now he has money to fix the floor. Nick goes to Emily and thanks her. They kiss.

         Nick and Emily bring the baby home, and she hands him to the maid. A termite repair truck arrives.

         This domestic comedy portrays a modern young couple and how they learn some of the old ways of his religious father.

Copyright © 2010 by Sanderson Beck

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