The film follows the meandering (sexual) adventures of the poet and drunk, Charles Serking, laying bare the sleaze of life in the less reputable neighborhoods of Los Angeles. Serking’s life takes a turn for the better when he meets Cass, a young hooker with self destructive habits. They have a stormy relationship. When Serking gets an offer from a major publishing house, Cass tries to stop him from leaving, but fails.
Serking gives in to the temptation of the big bucks, but soon realises his mistake and returns to LA only to find that Cass has killed herself in his absence. Devastated he hits the bottle in a nightmarish drinking bout, but finally reaches catharsis and returns to the seaside guesthouse where he spent his happiest moments with Cass. Here he rekindles his poetry with the aid of a young admirer in one of Ferreri’s trademark beach scenes.
Tales of Ordinary Madness (Storie di ordinaria follia) is a 1981 film by Italian director Marco Ferreri. It was shot in English in the USA, featuring Ben Gazzara and Ornella Muti in the leading roles. The film’s title and subject matter are based on the works and the person of US poet Charles Bukowski, including the short story The Most Beautiful Woman in Town (published by City Lights Publishing in the 1972 collection Erections, Ejaculations, Exhibitions, and General Tales of Ordinary Madness).
The film’s protagonist, Charles Serking, is based on Bukowski’s autobiographical character Henry Chinaski. At the time, the director Taylor Hackford owned the rights to the Chinaski name, having acquired them when he optioned Bukowski’s 1971 novel Post Office.
Tales of Ordinary Madness (1981)
Directed by: Marco Ferreri
Starring: Ben Gazzara, Ornella Muti, Susan Tyrrell, Tanya Lopert, Roy Brocksmith, Katya Berger, Judith Drake, Wendy Welles
Screenplay by: Marco Ferreri, Sergio Amidei
Production Design by: Dante Ferretti
Cinematography by: Tonino Delli Colli
Film Editing by: Ruggero Mastroianni
Costume Design by: Nicoletta Ercole
Set Decoration by: Francesca Lo Schiavo
Music by: Philippe Sarde
Distributed by: Fred Baker Films
Release Date: April 24, 1981