Notes: Samuel Goldwyn Company. 107 minutes.
Secondo Pilaggi: Stanley Tucci
Primo Pilaggi: Tony Shalhoub
Gamriella: Isabella Rossellini
Pascal: Ian Holm
Phyllis: Minnie Driver
Directors: Campbell Scott and Stanley Tucci
Producer: Jonathan Filley
Screenplay: Joseph Tropiano and Stanley Tucci
Cinematography: Ken Kelsch
Music: Gary DeMichele
Summary: During the 1950s, two immigrant Italian brothers, Primo and Secondo are trying to face the difficulties of running a restaurant. Primo is a master chef who serves culinary delights every night. The only problem is that frequently there is no one to serve food to. The two brothers are lucky if anyone even shows up to eat, since the diners all expect standard Italian-American food and not gourmet fare. When someone does decide to dine at their restaurant, Paradise, Secondo is forced to cope with his brother's artistic temperament. When one woman orders risotto and is dismayed that it doesn't come with spaghetti, she orders it on the side; Secondo goes into the kitchen to ask Primo to prepare a side of spaghetti. Instead of preparing it Primo becomes enraged that she would dare to eat two different starches with her meal. The neighboring Italian restaurant owned by Secondo's friend Pascal is filled every night, but the food that is served there is strictly meatballs and spaghetti. Desperate to keep their restaurant open Secondo asks Pascal for a loan; instead Pascal promises to get the famous singer Louis Prima to eat at Secondo's restaurant, in the hope that the celebrity's dining there will put it on the map. The brothers invest all they have in the anticipated "big night."
Commentary: As preparations begin for the big night with Louis Prima the food takes the starring role. The preparation of the timpani is a wonderful sight to behold. The pasta is hand-made and rolled and everything is put into an enormous pot with the care of a surgeon. Finally when the two brothers decide to serve the timpani they carefully remove the lid and turn the pot upside down, like a cake. Then before Primo cuts it he lightly feels the timpani and cocks his head as if he can hear the timpani. Watching everyone eat the magnificent feast is no less exciting than watching it being prepared. After eating the feast that Primo prepared everyone is exhausted, one woman tearfully exclaims, "My mother was a terrible cook!" In the final moments of the film we are also treated to a wonderful scene in which the two brothers wordlessly eat a simple omelet. Big Night is truly a food film; without the food there is no movie. There are too many food scenes to list all of them. It is also worthy to note that not once will you see spaghetti or meatballs in Primo's kitchen.