SENSO (Luchino Visconti, 1954)

Senso proved as doomed as the mostly one-sided, purplish romance at the center of its plot. Ingrid Bergman and Marlon Brando agreed to star; but when (under pressure from spouse Roberto Rossellini) Bergman withdrew, Brando followed suit. Cinematographer Aldo Graziati was killed in a road accident during filming. The producer worried that the film’s depiction […]

OSSESSIONE (Luchino Visconti, 1942)

Aristocrat and also Communist, Luchino Visconti combines elegance and earthiness in Obsession, a languorous melodrama of adultery and murder involving a drifter (Massimo Girotti), an innkeeper and his wife (Clara Calamai, astounding). Visconti had apprenticed in the 1930s to Jean Renoir, whose liberated use of camera Visconti adopted, and whose Toni (1934) is an especial […]

1860 (Alessandro Blasetti, 1933)

Risorgimento: the period, 1848-1870, when partitioned Italy was unified, provides the basis for Alessandro Blasetti’s patriotic 1860, which culminates in the Battle of Calatafimi. A Sicilian village, under oppressive Bourbon occupation, rebels. Carmine, a young shepherd, travels to Genoa to solicit support for the local cause from the movement’s leader, Italy’s liberator, Giuseppe Garibaldi. The […]

SIMON OF THE DESERT (Luis Buñuel, 1965)

Its shooting aborted, apparently, when the producer ran out of money, Luis Buñuel’s Mexican Simón del desierto is set in the past. The film skewers organized religion and laments the gap between one man’s asceticism and the grubby self-interest of those purportedly enthralled by him.      Simon emulates St. Simeon Stylites, the fifth-century fanatic, by standing […]