Example Of Essay On Big Night
Big Night is the story of two Italian brothers, Primo and Secondo who have immigrated to America to open their own Italian restaurant. The setting of the movies is the 1950’s on the New Jersey shore. Their restaurant, Paradise, is failing despite Primo’s extraordinary talent as a chef and Secondo’s competencies as a businessman and charisma with their patrons. The brothers face direct competition from “Pascal’s”, a busy and popular restaurant the serves mediocre, Americanized Italian food.
The brothers share the passion and drive to make their restaurant successful, but they are very different in their personalities, abilities and approach to life. Primo is the artist and maintains high standards for his restaurant. He is quiet and thoughtful. He exhibits an edge and when upset replies with sarcasm. Secondo is the businessman. He is the “face” of the restaurant. He possesses the personality and the business savvy. His methods, however are sometimes questionable, such as buying stolen liquor to stock the bar.
At the very beginning of the film Secondo approaches Primo at the close of the evening about removing risotto from the menu. Risotto is expensive and time consuming to make and their customers don’t understand the concept of a main course rice dish. Primo is quiet and listens but responds to Secondo’s suggestion with, “Sure, good. Maybe instead we could put, ah, is a hot dog.” This is Primo’s way of saying he disagrees and is insulted by the suggestion.
This dialog succinctly shows the differences in the brothers’ approach to the restaurant. While both want it to be a success, Primo is the artist who creates and expects everyone to love and appreciate his creations. Secondo is the businessman who is motivated by the financial success and public relations of the business.
Pascal comes across as the brothers’ friend, but he really would like to see their restaurant fail in order to recruit them to work in his establishment. Secondo is envious of Pascal’s success and money while Primo looks at Pascal and his business with contemp. He sees Pascal as a mass producer of food, simply looking to make money. The brothers prefer their independence and do not want to work in a restaurant that they recognize as inferior in quality. They know that their abilities are best used in their own restaurant. When Secondo approaches Pascal for a loan, Pascal refuses but offers Louis Prima, the famous bandleader, instead. He claims to know Louis Prima and assures Secondo that Prima will be able to come to the Paradise for dinner the following evening. The publicity following this visit will save the restaurant.
Secondo trusts Pascal but Primo does not. When Pascal stops by the afternoon of their big dinner for Tony Prima, he slips in mentioning that he knows Prima and arranged for his visit to the Paradise. This incenses Primo. Primo, unlike his brother, does not like or trust Pascal or his motivations.
The brothers are also very different in their love lives. Secondo, the extrovert is a bit of a playboy. He has a steady girlfriend, Phyllis whom he claims he loves and when he is more secure would like to marry. In the meantime, he is having an affair with Pascal’s wife. Phyllis discovers the infidelity the night of the big dinner and Gabriella is hurt that he has another woman and leaves. Primo, on the other hand, is deeply in love with the local florist, Ann. He his shy and reticent in her presence but has expressed his feelings to his friend, the barber. Promo invites her to the dinner that evening and their cautious interactions in the kitchen lead to the understanding that their feelings are mutual.
The dinner and the evening for Louis Prima are a huge success for the handpicked guests that the brothers invite. The brothers are both angry and disappointed that Louis Prima does not show, Secondo more so than Primo. Primo finds Secondo at the beach, not far from the restaurant. He explains the Prima is not coming, that it was a lie. He also offers the suggestion they return to Italy, Rome where an uncle has a restaurant and wants them to come to work.
They begin to argue, Secondo accuses Primo of not helping enough with the business end of the restaurant. He accuses Primo of not being concerned with making a profit and wanting to cook perfectly all of the time. The brothers begin to fight physically on the beach. When they are done, Secondo returns to the restaurant. Secondo heads to the kitchen and makes some eggs, he shares them with their busboy. Primo enters and now words are spoken. Secondo, shares the eggs with Primo. Although it is easier to sympathize with Primo because of his talent, he is responsible in many ways for the failure of the restaurant. It he had been willing to compromise with the menu and offer more “popular” food, they would have been more successful.
The brothers recognize their differences in their approach to the restaurant and life. The fight was necessary for them to clearly express where they stood. Primo understands Secondo’s disappointment in the failure of the restaurant and the betrayal of Pascal. Secondo had defended his brother and his talent a few moments earlier by telling Pascal that he would never win Primo over because he could never understand or respect Primo’s talent. The quiet moment and the sharing of the eggs represents the brothers’ understanding and respect for one another despite their dissimilarities.