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  1. #1
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    I am starting this new thread which will be featured at the top of the Italy forum as a place for us to write about movies set in Italy. I will use the information here to update our Italy Movie List the Liz wrote for us years ago.

    Post the information for the movie and your review of it. Anything posted here may end up on a page on slowtrav.com.

    This thread is just for the reviews. Start a new thread to discuss any of the reviews. Thanks!

  2. #2
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    The Scarlet and the Black, with Gregory Peck, Christopher Plummer, John Gielgud, 1983 (DVD from Netflix)

    Filmed in 1983 but set in Nazi occupied Rome in the 40s during the end of World War II. Based on a true story. Gregory Peck plays Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty, an Irish priest in the Vatican (with a very bad Irish accent) who works with local Italians to hide American and British POWs (and some Jews). John Gielgud is the Pope and is only in a few scenes. Christopher Plummer plays the German Nazi in charge of the Rome occupation.

    The movie feels like a 1950s movie with simple plot line, bad acting and bad accents, but it was interesting enough because of the scenes of Rome. Many scenes of St. Peters and in the Vatican. Plummer's character lives in an apartment that I would guess is in the Capitoline Museums - it looks at the Victor Emmanuel Monument in one direction and into the Forum in the other. There is a good scene at the end in the Colosseum. Many good street scenes.

    Recommendation: Neutral

  3. #3


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    Oh Goody!!! I'm first with the CLASSIC Roman Holiday. Audrey Hepburn as the runaway princess, Gregory Peck as the american journalist, Eddie Arnold as the sidekick. Classic american 50's story telling, real chemistry between Hepburn and Peck, with a twist at the end.

    A little known fact is that the writer was Dalton Trumbo who was on the blacklist at the time. His front was Ian Mclellan Hunter. Directed by the great William Wyler who also directed Ben Hur. Obviously a man in love with Rome in all its phases and it shows.

    5 stars and two thumbs up. Don't rent it - buy it because if you rent it you will just end up buying it anyway - save yourself the rental fee and apply it toward the purchase price. If you are a cheapskate it shows up occasionally on Turner Classic Movies.

  4. #4
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    The movie is just a funny farce but the scenes of Venice are the best I have seen. Go rent this one: BLAME IT ON THE BELLBOY

  5. #5
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    I love the subtitled Italian film "Bread and Tulips". I was lucky enough to stumble across it on Netflix.
    It is the funny and warm story of an Italian woman who is thoughtlessly left at a rest stop while on vacation with her family. She realizes that she is underappreciated and unhappy with her rude family- so she takes off for Venice, on her own. Romance and a great deal of wonderful Venice scenery follow. It's delightful.
    Linda

  6. #6
    -Heaven(available on netflix) with Cate Blanchett & Giocanni Ribisi - decent story but amazing scenery esp. in tuscany.

    -shadows in the sun(available on netflix with joshua jackson. Very silly story but in georgeous settings..

    sudhin

  7. #7


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    Another pretty dumb movie that has some of the best Italian scenery I have seen is a Suzanne Pleshette/Troy Donahue vehicle from 1962 called Rome Adventure.

    The plot has the main characters on a tour around Italy stopping at many locations...the ones I remember include Bomarzo and Lago di Maggiore.

    http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0056424/maindetails

  8. #8
    My House in Umbria

    Love and War (the version based on Eric Newby's WW2 escape)

  9. #9


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    Hi Pauline,

    I think "The Canterbury Tales" should be "Decameron"

  10. #10


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    I have a couple of classics there:

    - A Room with a view with Helena Bonham Carter and Maggie Smith (Tuscany)
    A young girl transformed by Italy falls in love with another English tourist there.

    - Only you (Venice, Rome, Positano, Tuscany)
    Faith is going to Italy following an unknown man called Damon Bradley and who is supposed to be her "destino". With Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey jr.

    - Summer Time with Catherine Hepburn
    David Lean directed this 1955 movie, which starred Katherine Hepburn as a love-starved American on her first trip to Venice. The film is packed with beautiful scenery that hasn't changed in the intervening decades. The Pensione Accademia Villa Maravegie, where the hotel interiors were shot, is still popular with American tourists.

    - Little White Lies 1989 (Rome)
    This is a comedy with a police woman who goes on vacation to Rome and meets with an american doctor there. She lies on her profession and so does him.

    - Tea with Mussolini starring Cher (Tuscany)
    Luca is alone. The boy's father's secretary, Mary Wallace, decides to adopt him. She is part of an eccentric community of British refugees called the Scorpioni, who sip tea and take part in Italy's wonders. The team includes Arabella (Judi Dench), Georgie (Lily Tomlin), Mary (Joan Plowright) and is led by the snotty Hester (Maggie Smith), whose late husband was England's ambassador to Italy, working with the dictator Mussolini. The boy becomes indulged into the group making many life long friends.

    - Seven Hills of Rome with Mario Lanza. This one is a musical comedy and has beautiful views of Rome. 1958

  11. #11


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    September Affair (1950)
    with Joseph Cotton and Joan Fontaine

    Two people fall in love while on vacation in Italy and through a twist of fate are able to leave their lives behind and live together in Italy, for a time.

    Worth seeing for the on location filming and if you enjoy "classic" films, but not stellar performances from either of these two actors.

    Difficult to find, not on DVD yet, but you may find it on VHS or catch it on cable TV.

    Recommendation: Yes, but don't expect too much.

    -Krista

  12. #12


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    Caterina in the Big City (2003)
    on DVD, Italian with subtitles

    This is a really charming film about a 15 year old who is forced to move to Rome with her family. She has to find her way and make new friends amidst quite a cast of characters.

    Despite being a somewhat standard plotline for a film - coming of age in the big city - it manages to be refreshing and unique with touches of both humor and social commentary. Great cinematography and shots of Rome, too.

    Recommendation: Yes, absolutely!

  13. #13
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    Krista,

    I second Catarina in the Big City!

    I will also add Agata and the Storm to the list. I saw it recently, got it on NetFlix, and absolutely loved it!

    It is directed by Silvio Soldini, the director of Bread and Tulips. Licia Maglietta, the same lead actress from Bread and Tulips, also stars in this film and is nothing less than entirely luminous. You just can't your eyes off of her. She is sexy, provocative and yet innocent all at once. She makes her character utterly enchanting.

    Agata and the Storm is the tale of an Italian bookstore owner who is in the prime of her life, confident, happy and content. Along comes this handsome younger man who sweeps her off her feet and proceeds to shake things up for her in that way that only a much younger lover can do. Her brother also has his very own shaking up of things taking place, but in a very different way...

    It is the tale of family, love, sex, friendship and freedom. A true delight!

  14. #14


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    I think one of the most intriguing and beautiful movies I have ever watched was Stealing Beauty. Liv Tyler was just as breathtaking as Tuscany. The plot is rich, complex and true to life, young love and the pain/joy of growing up.

    The movie intertwines the lives of Lucy, a virgin teenager who is sent to Tuscany to spend the summer with a group of jaded, avante garde, writers, artists, sculptors, etc. ex-pats in the golden hills of Tuscany.

    She is sent by her stepfather because her Mother, a famous published poetress has died and he feels that these people, who were her contemporaries and cronies from another time, can provide Lucy with the insight and comfort he can't give her.

    Lucy has two goals, one, to find out who her real Father is and, two, to loose her virginity to an Italian boy who she met years ago and on whom she still has a tremendous crush. (In a little plot twist this boy's best friend has a crush on her.)

    What is so compelling in this story is how Lucy relates to the people she's staying with. Jeremy Irons is dying of Aids, her hostess is an Earth Mother who was Lucy's Mother's best friend, her daughter is a jewelry designer who can't keep her clothes on and she's shacking up with a two timing movie producer. There is a grandfather with Alzhiemers and a May/December romance between a much older woman and a younger man.

    And it is all filmed on location in some of the most gorgeous landscapes of Tuscany.

    It's a marvelous movie, it invokes many memories of young love and the cinematography is dazzling.

    Rated R.

    Not suitable for children under 16.



    Ginger

  15. #15

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    The recent film Casanova had some wonderful footage of Venice. The film probably has little to do with history, but it's a fun "romp." Definitely not for kids.

    For kids, try to find The Thief Lord, which was made into a movie and is fairly faithful to the much-loved book. It's another one set in Venice, and my kids loved it. Although the movie is fairly new, I'm not sure if it was ever widely-released; we found it on DVD while browsing in our local library.

  16. #16
    Originally posted by SL Jones:
    I love the subtitled Italian film "Bread and Tulips". I was lucky enough to stumble across it on Netflix.

    Linda
    I LOVE this movie. Have seen it twice and I hardly ever watch movies twice. Don't watch a lot of movies in general so if I watch one twice it means a lot! This one is a bit disjointed at the beginning but the 2nd half of it is marvelous. Just LOVE the line: "sono venuto a reclamare la tua mamma"

  17. #17


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    Anyone who knows me knows my first recommendation would be Roman Holiday A few others I enjoyed that haven't been mentioned yet:

    Ciao Professore A school teacher from the North is sent, through a clerical error, to a school near Naples and must confront the cultural differences and prejudices (his own and the locals'). The children in this movie are so cute and funny...they're the real stars. Witty and charming.

    Non Ho Paura (I'm Not Scared) A suspense-thriller set in a teensy town in southern Italy where a young boy discovers that a child has been abducted for ransom. He befriends the boy as much as he can, smartly realizing there are limits or he'll be discovered, and not fully knowing who to trust in the situation. Very effectively suspenseful (but not gory at all). At one point we literally jumped out of our seats! Gorgeous shots of the wheatfields/landscape.

    Cinema Paradiso A sweet, touching, and funny film about a boy who grew up loving the cinema and the influence the movie theater, called the Nuovo Cinema Paradiso, and the projectionist had on his childhood. He became a famous director and when he hears of the death of the man who had been a father figure to him, reminisces through his memories of that period. Very sweet movie.

    Love and War Mentioned above, it's a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie based on Eric Newby's experiences as chronicled in his book, Love and War in the Appenines. Loved the book and enjoyed the movie. He and wife Wanda were present through the filming; they did a good job of condensing and but accurately portraying the experiences he had as a pow-escapee in Italy during WWII.

  18. #18


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    "Il vestito da sposa" by Fiorella Infascelli and with Maya Sansa who also played Mirella in "La meglio gioventù" (The best of youth). Despite the title, this is not (just) a love story, it's a very dark story about a woman who gets raped on the eve of her marraige and later falls in love with the designer of her wedding gown, not knowing that he was one of the rapists. Great story but alos great shots of central Italy (I have tried to find where the film was located, but I didn't succeed. anyway, hill town somewhere in cental Italy).
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  19. #19


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    Lots of great films mentioned here and several are my favorites. I would like to add...

    "The Merchant of Venice," 2004. Al Pacino (IMO, outstanding as Shylock), Jeremy Irons, and Joseph Fiennes.

    "Merchant" is directed by Michael Radford, who also directed another good film set in Italia,"Il Postino." Which also co-stars "Cinema Paradiso's" Philippe Noiret.
    Cindy
    ~ "Follow your Bliss." Find where it is, and don't be afraid to follow it. ~ Joseph Campbell

  20. #20
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    I really enjoyed watching The Talented Mr. Ripley (both times!) The Italian locations are absolutely gorgeous - I'm not sure where all of them are, but am sure I recognized at least Rome, Positano and Venice.

  21. #21
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    Enchanted April (1992)

    This sweet film is really the story of a Slow Travel trip to Italy in the 1920s. Two married British women-- seeking something different in their lives-- spot an ad about a villa to rent in Italy and decide to head off on an adventure. They need to recruit two other women to make the rental affordable, and end up with two strangers-- an older cantakerous woman and a young, vain woman. Somehow in the course of their stay, all four women are transformed. The movie has an almost magical feel. It definitely inspired me to want to spend more time in Europe.

    The cast includes Miranda Richardson, Joan Plowright, and Alfred Molina. The Italian scenes were filmed in Liguria, though I'm not quite sure where.

    Highly recommended. (Unfortunately it's not yet available on DVD.)

    Kathy

  22. #22

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    Well, not really about Italy but maybe you don't know that:
    In "Indiana Jones and the last crusade", the two run inside a Library that is not a library but the church in San Barnaba and out of a manhole in the same square that was made for the movie (that's no manhole in Venice!).
    The ball in "The English Patient" was not located in Cairo, Egipt, but in the Excelsior hotel in Lido, and it was January!

  23. #23
    And Campo San Barnaba is the site of the antique shop where Katherine Hepburn buys her red glass in Summertime, and where she falls in the canal.

    Can I mention Don't Look Now set in a dark out-of-season Venice? Also the TV series of Brideshead Revisted has a lovely Venice-set episode.

    Sorry to self-promote, but reviews and screen-caps of all these films can be found on...

  24. #24


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    Posted 24 January 2007 08:23 AM Hide Post
    I love the subtitled Italian film "Bread and Tulips
    I loved this movie too. I couldn't remember the title and was going to write and ask if anyone had seen it. I must watch it again and she is beautiful.

  25. #25
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    Sharon,

    If you liked Licia Maglietta in Bread and Tulips (I've seen it many times and will be adding it to my personal DVD collection) you will love her in Agata and the Storm.

  26. #26
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    Alice mentioned “The Best of Youth” (La meglio gioventù) in passing. That is one of my very top favorite films of all time. I suppose it can count as a movie, although it was originally produced for Italian television, and lasts 6 hours on 2 DVDs. But once I started watching it, time disappeared. It was a good thing, I guess, that I had ordered the movie from Netflix and only had the first disc when I started it, or I think I would have been up all night watching the full 6 hours.

    The film spans 40 years in the life of an Italian family, starting in the 1960s. It touches on some of the major events in Italy during those years, including the floods in Florence, the student upheavals, the assassination of judges, and much more. It goes from Rome to Turin, to Florence, Sicily and Tuscany — as well as Norway. But what draws you in is the characterizations and the interactions and relationships of the brothers, their parents, their friends, and their lovers. It’s like the best kind of epic, family-saga novel, with a story that kept me completely immersed from start to finish. And the acting is just superb.

    I hardly ever buy DVDs, but I did buy this one because I wanted to be able to see it again. I have already watched it twice, and I loved it just as much the second time. I'll probably watch it again after a few more months because it is such a wonderful experience.

    - Roz

  27. #27
    Originally posted by Roz:
    Alice mentioned “The Best of Youth” (La meglio gioventù) in passing. That is one of my very top favorite films of all time.

    - Roz
    LOVED THIS MOVIE. I have never bought a DVD but I am going to buy this one. My husband and I went into Denver to see it when it came to a special theater there in summer of '05 and I am looking forward to seeing it again... and watching it with no subtitles. I so miss hearing Italian... nothing better than hearing for 6 hours via this movie!!!

  28. #28


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    For those weho loved "La meglio gioventù", Rai is now showing a somewhat similar series, only this time more of a comedy, called "Raccontami". The original format is Spanish, but the Italian series was totally written in Italy by the same writers as "La meglio gioventù". Raccontami is set in the eraly 1960's and follows a family of seven, father, mother, their three children, the mother's mother and the mother's sister. I hope it will get distriburted also abroad because it's an interesting, very realistic, and yet fun view on Italian life in the 1960's, although this one is 14 (!) eposodes long: quite a bit more than "La meglio gioventù".
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  29. #29
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    Add me to the buying The Best Of Youth on DVD list. I could watch it again and again. Nothing less than perfect.

  30. #30

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    Alice mentioned “The Best of Youth” (La meglio gioventù) in passing. That is one of my very top favorite films of all time.

    - Roz
    Does this film have English subtitles?

  31. #31
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    Does this film have English subtitles?
    Yes.

  32. #32
    One more vote for Best of Youth. I ordered the DVD the same day I saw the rental. Nothing short of sublime... If anybody knows the name/location of the villa from the last 2 episodes please let me know..

    Sudhin

  33. #33

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    How about "Caro Diario" a "whimsical comedy about at man who takes off on his motorcycle across Italy in search of the true meaning of life" and "Three Coins in the Fountain" - "three American roomates working in Italy wish for the man of their dreams after throwing coins into
    Rome's Trevi Fountain" Clifton Webb, Dorothy McGuire, Louis Jourdan, Jean Peters, Rossano Brazzi, Maggie McNamara.
    Laroma

  34. #34


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    How about "Caro Diario" a "whimsical comedy about at man who takes off on his motorcycle across Italy in search of the true meaning of life"
    Actually this is not an accurate description of the film. This is a three-episode autobiographical film written and directed by Nanni Moretti. The first section deals shows him riding around Rome on his scooter on a Sunday morning and commenting on the absurdity of life. The second part deals with his trip to look for inspiration in the Aeolian Islands and the third describes his experience with doctors trying to diagnose his mysterious skin disease.

  35. #35

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    Another Bertolucci film...

    Besieged, starring David Thewlis and the gorgeous Thandie Newton (1998).

    Starts in Africa but plays out mostly in Rome; an interesting insight into immigrant life in Italy, among other things.

    Reviews of this film were extremely polarized-- I thought it was gorgeous. It follows a woman whose husband was arrested (and possibly killed) in an unnamed african country. The woman moves to Rome and starts to rebuild her life, going to school and housekeeping for a wealthy and eccentric British piano player. A strange relationship develops... will her husband come back into the picture?

  36. #36

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    I should add that, if you are really keen on seeing movies set in Italy, check out theInternet Movie Database, where you can search movies by location, among other things.

    Typing Italy into the search engine produces more than 4100 results, including TV shows, independent films and others. "Rome, Lazio, Italy" gives 1180 films. Typing Umbria produces a mere 158; Venice, not surprisingly, produces 588 results, but that includes some of the 'other' Venices of the world...like Venice California.

    You have to scroll through the results to find the 'real' Italy, but you may find some interesting films that you had not heard of before.

    Happy armchair traveling...

  37. #37


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    Two movies that have not been named yet in this thread are "Novecento", again by Bertolucci and with Robert De Niro and Gerard Depardieu, and Taviani brothers "La notte di San Lorenzo". Novecento is set in the first half of the XX century, in the Emilia Romagna countryside, and descrkibes the relation of two half-brothers, one the son of the landowner and one his "bastard" brother living with his peasant mother. "La notte di San Lorenzo" is set in the Tuscan countryside in 1944: one night in June a group of people flee from their village for fear of the Nazis: some decide to join the partisans, some are just on the run.
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  38. #38

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    I can also recommend Facing Windows/La Finestra di fronte/The Window Opposite (2003) With Giovanna Mezzogiorno and Massimo Girotti.

    This fim won several Italian and international film awards and is a fascinating story as well as a visual treat. Great scenes of Rome.

    A dying relationship, a mysterious lost stranger, shades of "Rear Window"... a lovely, rich and human film.

  39. #39


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    Two movies that have not been named yet in this thread are "Novecento", again by Bertolucci and with Robert De Niro and Gerard Depardieu, and Taviani brothers "La notte di San Lorenzo"
    Just for clarification the English titles of these films are different than the Italian titles.

    "Novecento" is known as "1900" although I think it should be called "The 20th Century". The uncut version of the film runs more than 5 hours.

    "La Notte di San Lorenzo" is called "The Night of the Shooting Stars".

    This thread seems impossible to me.....there are just too many films to list.

  40. #40


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    A few tidbits of information for you film fans.
    -Stealing Beauty "Io Ballo da sola" was filmed at Matthew Spencer's place San Sano and the sculptures are his.
    -Viterbo was the setting (and still is) of many great films, because it is quieter than Roma,has great scenery for medieval religious epics , more inexpensive and the city administration loves film makers. There is now a Film Commission here to organize filming, hiring extras etc. Giorgio Capitani, who did the Maresciallo Rocca TV films and many others lives here and is considered a VIP. No George Clooney types ... however, Raoul Bova (Marcello in "Under the Tuscan Sun") is often seen filming. A full list of films made in Viterbo is available on the Film Commission link www.comune.viterbo.it

  41. #41
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    Spencer
    Spender - author of Within Tuscany. (His mother taught my wife, many years ago)

    Jonathan

  42. #42


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    Thanks so much for this list. I rented The Best of Youth a few weeks ago and LOVED it. I never would have known about it if I hadn't seen it here.

    Grazie,
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  43. #43
    Just noticed that "La Dolce Vita" is on TCM tonight. I recorded the last time it was on, a few weeks ago and just finished watching it. Amazing movie; hadn't seen it since it first came out.

    If you need to be told: Rome, Marcello Mastroianni, Anita Ekberg, Anouk Aimée, Rome...

  44. #44
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    I have been racking my brain for several days to remember the title of the fantastic movie I saw a few months ago, and it's been under my nose the whole time - The Best of Youth!

    I also enjoyed 1900/Novocentro...except that "enjoyed" isn't really the right sentiment given its often shockingly brutal content.

    Oh Marian, I wish I got TCM, I've never seen La Dolce Vita

  45. #45
    I love all Italian films I even took an Italian Film class in college it was great. Ok some favorites:

    Il Postino

    L'Ultimo Baccio

    ANY FILM BY Federico Felini (spelling?) He aslso directed La Dolca Vita I believe.

    La Vita Bella (life is beautiful) although only the beginning is in Italy I believe.

    Under the Tuscan Sun sappy american film with Diana Lane

    Roberto Rossilini one of the best italian directors in history --so his movies are defintely some great ones.

  46. #46


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    Jonathan, of course, Spender instead of Spencer, son of poet Stephen Spender.

  47. #47
    A moving and beautifully shot film 'The Wings of the Dove' (made around 1997) with Helena Bonham Carter, Linus Roache, Alison Elliot and Charlotte Rampling based on the Henry James novel with some scenes set in Edwardian London and the rest (with some gorgeous Fortuny costumes) set in Venice.

    'Bread and Tulips' - loved everything about the film especially the owner of the florist shop!

    Also, for lots of good Venice shots (Riva Degli Schiavoni, San Marco, Lido, Fond.Nove, San Martino etc.) with some quite spooky 'walking at night' scenes etc - The Comfort of Strangers (1990)with Christopher Walken, Rupert Everett, Helen Mirren and Natasha Richardson. A pretty disturbing film DEFINITELY not for kids and based on the short novel by Ian McEwan. Screenplay by Harold Pinter. The line 'We are on the other side of the mirror' is

    Last but not least, Venice in Winter in 'Don't Look Now' based on short novel by Daphne Du Maurier (another NOT for the Kids).

  48. #48
    What about "It started in Naples" with Sophia Loren and Clarke Gable? American comes to Naples to take custody of his brother's child but runs up against Sophia Loren. Cute movie.

  49. #49


    Slow Traveler

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    We think of them as the quintessential american movies but in truth they are VERY italian movies. They were made IN Italy (and Spain) by an italian director, music by an italian composer and an international cast. Made in the 1950's for a home town audience of southern italians who went to the movies more than any other nation in the world.

    I am talking about Sergio Leone and spaghetti westerns. A Fistful of Dollars, A few Dollars More and The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. We think of them as american but watch them carefully. They are very italian in everything from the editing to the iconography.

  50. #50


    Slow Traveler

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    We think of them as the quintessential american movies but in truth they are VERY italian movies.
    A bit off topic, but I think it is important to note that Sergio Leone and his fellow spaghetti western directors were also heavily influenced by the films of Akira Kurowasa. As a matter of fact, A Fistful of Dollars was basically a remake (reinterpretation?) of the great film Yojimbo starring Toshiro Mifune.

    Of course, Kurosawa was indebted to the American westerns of John Ford et al so there are a lot cultural crosswalks in these films.

    And you have to remember that the classic 1970s western "The Magnificent Seven" is a clear remake of the masterful Japanese epic film from the 1950s "The Seven Samurai".

    One more note....if you haven't seen Leone's films on a big screen, you really haven't seen them. The same thing goes for some of the heavily cut and shorter versions of films like "The Seven Samurai"....the original version that was released in the US was more than an hour shorter than the original release and lost a lot of the character and story development in the process.

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