Fernando Di Leo’s ‘Milieu Trilogy’ on FilmStruck and Fandor

Fernando di Leo was, in the estimation of genre-hound Quentin Tarantino, “the master” of the Italian crime movie, or the “poliziotteschi.” A violent action genre that picked up the escalating violence of American films like Dirty Harry and The French Connection, films where blood spattered and cops got their hands dirty, it was never as […]

Anna Magnani stars in Jean Renoir's adaptation of the Prosper Merimee play

Jean Renoir’s ‘The Golden Coach’ on Amazon Prime and FilmStruck

Anna Magnani stars as the earthy, vivacious diva of The Golden Coach (France/Italy, 1952), an adaptation of a Prosper Merimee play about a traveling troupe of Italian commedia dell’arte players in a Peruvian backwater where three men (a viceroy, a bullfighter, and a fellow performer) vie for the affections of the company’s leading lady. An […]

Burt Lancaster, Alain Delon, and Claudia Cardinale star in Luchino Visconti's adaptation of Giuseppe di Lampedusa’s novel

Burt Lancaster is ‘The Leopard’ in Luchino Visconti’s masterpiece on FilmStruck

The Leopard (Italy, 1963), Luchino Visconti’s adaptation of Giuseppe di Lampedusa’s novel (said to be a national touchstone for Italy), is his masterpiece. Burt Lancaster (his voice is dubbed by a deep-voiced Italian) may seem an unusual choice to play Prince Don Fabrizio Salina, an idealistic 19th century Sicilian prince (Visconti favored Laurence Olivier, a […]

Barry Sullivan stars in Mario Bava's Italian sci-fi horror cult film

Mario Bava’s ‘Planet of the Vampires’ on FilmStruck

Despite the title Mario Bava’s funky 1965 sci-fantasy thriller Planet of the Vampires (Italy, 1965), there are no bloodsuckers to be seen, merely an unseen force that kills the astronauts (led by a craggy Barry Sullivan) that land on a primeval otherworldly planet of jagged rocks, bubbling lakes of lava mud, and purple skies. If […]

‘Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key’ on Amazon Prime

Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (Italy, 1972), directed by Sergio Martino and ostensibly inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Black Cat,” stars the voluptuous, dark-eyed beauty Edwige Fenech, the sex bomb of giallo, in what was (in the words of genre film historian Justin Harries) “Her finest and […]

Karl Malden and James Franciscus in the giallo by Dario Argento

Dario Argento’s ‘Cat O’Nine Tails’ on Amazon Prime

The Cat O’Nine Tails (Italy, 1971), Dario Argento’s second feature, follows up his directorial debut The Bird With the Crystal Plumage in genre, style and “animal” theme (stretched into a trilogy with Four Flies on Gray Velvet). In Bird, Argento explores, pushes at, and plays with the mechanics of suspense and murder mystery spectacle in […]

The second film in Dario Argento's "Three Mothers" trilogy is his most abstractly beautiful

Dario Argento’s ‘Inferno’ on Amazon Prime

Inferno (Italy, 1980), the second film in Dario Argento’s “Three Mothers” trilogy, is ostensibly a sequel to Suspiria, though it has no characters or storylines in common with Dario Argento’s giallo classic. What it shares is style and sensibility and dreamy, unreal imagery. Irene Miracle appears to be our heroine, a New York girl captivated […]

Anna Magnani in Roberto Rossellini's Rome Open City

Blu-ray: ‘Roberto Rossellini’s War Trilogy’ on The Criterion Collection

Roberto Rossellini’s War Trilogy (Criterion). Roberto Rossellini had been a journeyman director working within Mussolini’s Italian film industry when he redefined his career and all but inaugurated the neo-realist movement with this trio of films made at the end of World War II. Though he was no partisan, he started working on Rome Open City […]