Four women break out of their confined lives and roles when they rent a Italian villa in this romantic drama of reawakening. Josie Lawrence, Miranda Richardson, Polly Walker, and Joan Plowright costar with the beautiful Mediterranean landscape.
Clint Eastwood stars in Sergio Leone’s classic Civil War epic, arguably the definitive spaghetti western.
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 […]
Billy Wilder was one of the great directors of classic American comedy. Avanti! (1972), based on the play by Samuel Taylor, is one of the director’s attempts to adapt his trademark mix of wit, romance, and sex to the more permissive era of the 1970s and one of the best films in the last act […]
When Sergio Leone’s sunbaked A Fistful of Dollars (1964) rode into American theaters, caked in dust and sweat and stubble, critics dismissed it a cheap western, and a European knock-off at that. It was a blatant rip-off of Akira Kurosawa’s cynical samurai hit Yojimbo with American TV star Clint Eastwood, known to audiences as the impetuous […]
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 […]
Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Conformist (1970), his dense, visually intricate, and stylistically ornate adaptation of the revered novel by Alberto Moravio, tosses sex, desire, politics, and personal responsibility into the Fascist era before World War II. Marcello (an actively repressed Jean-Louis Trintignant), a petty bourgeois man in late 1930s Italy, joins the Italian Fascist party as […]
The shamelessly and fabulously derivative Italian space opera Starcrash (1979) is both the most ridiculous and the most irresistible of all the Star Wars knock-offs of the late seventies and eighties. Caroline Munro spends much of the film in a black latex bikini as the great outlaw starship pilot Stella Star, who is arrested by […]
Deep Red (Profundo Rosso, Italy, 1975), Dario Argento’s fifth film and his fourth giallo (his non-horror interim film Le Cinque giornate remains unreleased in the U.S.), stars David Hemmings as an American jazz pianist and music teacher in Italy. He witnesses a bloody murder in an apartment window and rushes up from the street to […]
Dario Argento, the master choreographer of the distinctly Italian art of horror known as giallo, was the pop-art fabulist of the slasher movie set. He was popular in Europe but a cult figure among horror fans in the U.S. Suspiria (Italy, 1977), a stylish, surreal, downright puzzling piece of seventies Grand Guignol weirdness, was his […]