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 Criterion Channel

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 […]

Dominique Sanda and Stefania Sandrelli in Bernardo Bertolucci's 'The Conformist' starring Jean-Louis Trintignant

Bernardo Bertolucci’s ‘The Conformist’ on Criterion Channel

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 […]

‘Starcrash’ – the most marvelously ridiculous ‘Star Wars’ knock-off on Amazon Prime

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 […]

David Hemmings in the giallo horror classic by Dario Argento

Dario Argento’s ‘Deep Red’ on Amazon Prime

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 […]

Jessica Harper stars in Dario Argento's giallo classic

Dario Argento’s ‘Suspiria’ free on Kanopy

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 […]

‘Adua and Her Friends’ on Amazon Prime Video

Adua and Her Friends (Italy, 1960) are prostitutes from a Rome brothel attempting to take charge of their own lives after their place is shut down in the aftermath of Italy’s Merlin Law, which ended legalized prostitution in 1958. Adua (Simone Signoret), a veteran of the life, has a plan to open a restaurant as […]

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

Dario Argento’s ‘Inferno’ on Amazon Prime Video

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 […]

‘The Long Hair of Death’ – Barbara Steele takes sweet revenge on Amazon Prime Video

Antonio Margheriti is best known to modern audiences (if at all) thanks to Quentin Tarantino, who memorialized his name in Inglorious Basterds; it’s Brad Pitt’s cover name as he infiltrates a Nazi function and he can’t even pronounce it. The real Antonio Margheriti was a prolific director cranking out genre pictures through the 1960s and […]

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

Mario Bava’s ‘Planet of the Vampires’ on Amazon Prime Video

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 […]

Robert Hossein directs and stars in 'Cemetery Without Crosses,' a spaghetti western with French seasonings

‘Cemetery Without Crosses’ on Amazon Prime

A spaghetti western with French seasonings, Cemetery Without Crosses (1969) is a Franco-Italian co-production shot in Almeria, Spain, the definitive badlands landscape of the Euro-western. The director, screenwriters, two stars, and even composer are French and the supporting cast largely Italian. And while this is not shot in the widescreen dimension of CinemaScope, de rigueur […]