THE IMMORTAL BACHELOR -- In Italian with English subtitles at the K-B Janus.

Take a normal, redblooded Italian husband who's in the mood for love. His wife isn't. What's to do?

Why, give her a good slap, of course. You know women, always playing games. A little force will show her who's boss.

This is the forward-thinking premise behind a new Italian comedy, "The Immortal Bachelor." Of course, it's all in good fun.

That's the thing. Either you can see the humor in such a situation or you can't. If you can -- and you're in good company, since the preview audience at the Janus was rolling in the aisles -- there's no point discussing the various permutations on the caveman theme. Suffice it to say that Giancarlo Giannini and Monica Vitti portray the above-mention Neanderthal and his slap-happy wife with appropriate gusto.

To be fair, their fight-and-make-up routines are not one-sided: Tina, the wife, can dish it out as well as take it. That's what provides the "suspense" behind this little romp -- she and her philandering husband have a violent argument on the banks of an open sewer, he ends up floating downstream and she's accused of his murder. The film opens at her trial but is made up mostly of flashbacks of assorted rolls in assorted hays.

And lest you go seeking some good old-fashioned porn, sorry: it isn't even dirty. Despite all that exhausting sex, an accordion-laden soundtrack and plenty of exclamation points in the subtitles, the overall effect is one big yawn.

The only good thing in the film is Claudia Cardinale, looking classy and sophisticated as a sympathetic juror. Her neat haircut, tailored suits and understated manner are in sharp contrast to Vitti's would-be sexy appearance.