Film review: Wait Until Spring, Bandini

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 25 1990 12:00 a.m. MST

"Wait Until Spring, Bandini" has its flaws — it is too leisurely paced and in places a bit illogical, and Faye Dunaway seems to be posing rather than performing. But on the whole it is a charming little movie about one man's struggle to come to terms with his lot in life, shown largely from his young son's viewpoint.

Joe Mantegna, who also has a prominent role in the upcoming "Godfather, Part III," stars as Svevo Bandini, a bricklayer living with his wife and three sons in a small Colorado town in 1928.

It is the dead of winter, very close to Christmas, and Svevo is an angry man. His family is poor and struggling, his long-suffering wife Maria (Ornella Muti) seems too good for him and he can't stand seeing his three young sons going without.

The irony is that his wife is relatively happy, deeply in love with her husband and very much enjoys her family. And his sons are generally oblivious to their poverty-ridden lifestyle. Except for the oldest son, Arturo (Michael Bacall), who is prone to anger and rudeness — emulating his father.

To escape his life, Svevo spends his evenings drinking and playing pool with his buddies. Then, one night, his bachelor friend Rocco (Burt Young) gets a bricklaying job and gives it to Svevo.

The job entails fixing up a fireplace in the home of a wealthy widow, Mrs. Effie Hildegarde (Dunaway). She becomes enchanted by Svevo, seduces him and gives him money, which he takes home. His wife's reaction is, understandably, rather violent.

So Svevo moves in with Mrs. Hildegarde, and Arturo decides it is his job to get his father back home to the family — by hook or crook.

Except for Dunaway, the performances here are all quite good. Mantegna's self-righteous anger, Muti's loving devotion and Bacall's confusion as he idolizes his father and feels for his mother, all work very well. (You might notice that one of the younger sons is Alex Vincent, who later starred in the two "Child's Play" horror movies. The music is by "Twin Peaks" composer Angelo Badalamenti.)

"Wait Until Spring, Bandini," rated PG for some profanity and violence, was filmed in 1988 in Utah, with the interiors of Mrs. Hildegarde's opulent home being at La Caille, exteriors of the Bandini home and neighborhood in Ogden and other indoor sets at the former Osmond Studios in Orem.