Here is a photo of hubby’s uncle taken with Sophia Loren a few years ago. LOOK AT THIS WOMAN! At the time, she was 81! This is just a snapshot, no photoshop or retouching – just a regular pic. She is amazing and an inspiration.
Hubby’s family works in the film industry handling special effects. They work on most of the Hollywood movies filmed in Italy or with Italian production teams around the world and have been doing so for a long time. Think: “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.”
This photo got me to thinking about Italian cinema. Here is a list of must-see Italians movies. Ok…some of them are “must-see” (like what your film professor would tell you to see) and some are just movies that I like.
1. La Dolce Vita (1960) Federico Fellini. I may as well start with ultimate in Italian cinema. I admit that this was not my favorite movie, but I enjoyed watching suave Marcello Mastroianni and beautiful Anita Ekberg wade through the Trevi Fountain. This movie follows gossip journalist, Marcello (his name in the movie too) over a period of a week as he lives the good life or “the sweet life.” The question is: Is it really that sweet?
2. Cinema Paradiso (1988) Giuseppe Tornatore. The title to this movie in Italy is Nuovo Cinema Paradiso (translation: New Cinema Paradiso). Personally I like the American title better. In the movie, the old movie house burns down and they build a new one, hence the name: “New.” However, just Cinema Paradiso captures the essence of the movie a little bit better to me. It shows what the cinema in this small Italian town was to the people living there: a little escape, a little piece of paradise. That is what the movies are after all. Right? A way to lose ourselves in something fantastic and beautiful.
Anyway, this is probably my favorite film on the list. This touching story is about an Italian director and shows his life as a child and a young man in Sicily. It focuses on his father figure relationship with the projectionist at the local cinema.
3. The Bicycle Thief (1948) Vittorio De Sica. The title to this movie in Italy is: Ladri di Biciclette. The actual translation in English would be: Bicycle Thieves – which is sometimes reflected. Ugggg…this movie is difficult to watch. It takes place during post-war Italy. The film follows Antonio as he finally gets a job in which he can only do with a bike that he must provide himself. The bike is stolen and things get ugly from there.
4. Johnny Stecchino (1991) Roberto Benigni. Ok, so the first time I saw this film, I was in a movie theater in Houston, Texas completely alone. Laughing and laughing and laughing all alone. It is a fantastic movie with a mistaken identify premise. It reminds me a lot of the old Bob Hope movies. Goofy fun. It stars Benigni’s real-life wife as most of his movies do. You might know Roberto Benigni from Life is Beautiful. He is a wonderful comic and nearly every movie he has ever made is hilarious. In Italy he is also famous for his thought-provoking interpretations of Dante’s, “Divine Comedy” and “The Ten Commandments.”
5. Two Women (1960) Vittorio De Sica. Again De Sica focuses on the effects of war in Italy and again he deals with a difficult subject matter. During the war, an Italian widow and her daughter experience a series of tragedies including sexual assaults that alters them forever. Sophia Loren won an Oscar for her performance in this film.
6. Mediterraneo (1991) Gabriele Salvatore. This movie is “Dedicated to all those who are running away.” Hmmm…maybe that is one of the reasons I like it so much. It won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in 1991. It takes place during World War II when a group of mis-fit Italian soldiers are sent to a Greek island. Lucky soldiers! Little by little the Italians integrate with the locals as well as the Greek way of life. The music is wonderful as well, which you can hear in this clip.
7. Big Deal on Madonna Street (1958) Mario Monicelli. This comedy has an impressive ensemble cast including Marcello Mastroianni, Vittorio Gassman, Claudia Cardinale and Toto’. The movie is about a group of inept thieves and their attempt to make a big time heist.
8.The Good, the Bad and the Ugly ( 1966) Sergio Leone. This is a classic Spaghetti Western. And although these movies were produced and directed by Italians, a big portion of these films were shot in Spain. Here is the music everyone knows by Ennio Morricone.
PS: Many of these movies you can find on Youtube with English subtitles….in case you are curious.
Of course there are many other fabulous Italian movies such as Il Postino, La Grande Bellezza, Pane e Tulipani, Life is Beautiful – it would be impossible to list them all. What is your must-see Italian film?
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