Paisan (Paisa’, 1946) / Germany, Year Zero (Germania Anno Zero, 1948)

Director/Coscreenwriter: Roberto Rossellini By Roderick Heath Out of ashes, creation. The Italian neorealist film movement was in large part a pragmatic solution to shortages of film stock, actors, and other paraphernalia of a movie industry that had been gutted by war, invasion, and the collapse of a regime. This unlikely renaissance was propelled purely by …

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Fellini ∙ Satyricon (1969)

Director/Coscreenwriter: Federico Fellini By Roderick Heath Thanks to the enormous impact of La Dolce Vita (1960) and 8½ (1963), Federico Fellini’s name had been vaulted into the tiny canon of filmmakers whose names were household words. The phrase “Felliniesque” came to spell out a brand of gaudy, sensual, yearning artistry in the same way Hitchcockian …

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Hercules in the Centre of the Earth (Ercole al Centro della Terra, 1961)

aka Hercules in the Haunted World Director: Mario Bava By Roderick Heath Mario Bava is beloved by cineastes as the filmmaker who helped define the modern concept of horror and thriller cinema, as well as the founder of the giallo style that would shape both. But like most Italian directorial talents of the time, including …

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Blowup (1966)

Director/Coscreenwriter: Michelangelo Antonioni By Roderick Heath Michelangelo Antonioni was a relatively minor figure in the European film scene until 1960. The former economics student and journalist entered that scene in the days of Mussolini’s regime, and started his directing career making documentaries. His early labours offered hues of the oncoming neorealist movement, depicting the lives …

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The Leopard (Il Gattopardo, 1963)

Director: Luchino Visconti By Roderick Heath Luchino Visconti was a singular and contradictory figure in just about any context. Visconti’s background was dauntingly aristocratic: his father belonged to a branch of the once very powerful Visconti family of Milan, whilst his mother was heiress to a cosmetics fortune. In the midst of Fascist Italy’s halcyon …

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I Tre Volti della Paura (aka The Three Faces of Fear; Black Sabbath; 1963)

Director/Coscreenwriter: Mario Bava Part of the Italian Horror Blogathon at Hugo Stiglitz Makes Movies By Roderick Heath Mario Bava is a name to conjure with amongst lovers of horror cinema today, after an interregnum when his brand had waned and he was remembered only by film scholars and the directors who ripped him off. His …

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Spirits of the Dead (1967)

Histoires Extraordinaires de Edgar Allan Poe Directors: Roger Vadim, Louis Malle, Federico Fellini By Roderick Heath As concept and finished product, Spirits of the Dead takes on the aspect of a fever dream, where the strangeness of the vision that arises before one’s eyes defies credulity. Did Roger Vadim, Louis Malle, and Federico Fellini really …

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A Fistful of Dollars (1964)

Per un pugno di dollari Director: Sergio Leone By Roderick Heath In the early 1960s, the Hollywood Western genre was beginning its long decline. The genre’s most iconic stars, like John Wayne, James Stewart, and Henry Fonda, aged, the directors who had fostered in its greatest years were themselves fading, the “adult” westerns of the …

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La Luna (1979)

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci By Roderick Heath Bernardo Bertolucci’s career took some peculiar turns in the 1970s and 80s, after the tremendous international success of The Conformist (1970) and Last Tango in Paris (1973) made him a cinema artist of worldwide reputation. He courted an international audience and utilised Hollywood money and stars whilst avoiding becoming …

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Deep Red (Profondo Rosso, 1975)

Director/Coscreenwriter: Dario Argento By Roderick Heath This entry is part of the Italian Horror Blog-a-Thon hosted by Kevin J. Olson of Hugo Stiglitz Makes Movies. If there’s a problem with Suspiria, often regarded as the high point of Dario Argento’s career, it’s that the bare-bones characterisations and equally minimal storyline build in off-kilter style to …

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