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TCM's Italian Cinema - June (1 Viewer)

Jim Rankin

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Normally I know these types of threads don't generate a whole lot of interest, but if information I find helps me, then maybe it can help someone else! TCM is going to show films from Italian cinema the whole month of June - Here is a cut and pasted schedule:

Jun 07 08:00 PM My Voyage to Italy - (1999)
Director Martin Scorsese examines the glorious history of Italian cinema in this definitive film study. Martin Scorsese. D: C 246 m

Jun 07 12:15 AM Bicycle Thief, The - (1948)
A working man's livelihood is threatened when someone steals his bicycle. Lamberto Maggiorani, Enzo Staiola, Lianella Carell. D:Vittorio De Sica. BW 89 m

Jun 07 02:00 AM Umberto D. - (1952)
A retiree copes with the realities of old age. Carlo Batista, Maria Pia Castillo, Lina Gennari. D:Vittorio de Sica. BW 89 m

Jun 07 03:45 AM Children are Watching Us, The - (1942)
A child's world collapses when his mother runs off with her lover. Emilio Cigoli, Luciano De Ambrosis, Isa Poli. D:Vittorio De Sica. BW 79 m

Jun 07 05:30 AM Wide Blue Road, The - (1956)
A fisherman and his young sons fight the sea off the Dalmation Coast. Yves Montand, Alida Valli, Francisco Rabal. D:Gillo Pontecorvo. C LBX 99 m

Jun 14 08:00 PM Open City - (1946)
Towards the end of WWII, Italian underground workers stand up to the Nazis. Aldo Fabrizi, Anna Magnani, Marcello Pagliero. D:Roberto Rossellini BW 102 m

Jun 14 09:45 PM Paisan - (1946)
Short vignettes reveal the personal effects of the Allied invasion of Italy. Dots Johnson, Maria Michi, Harriet Medin. D:Roberto Rosselini. BW 116 m

Jun 14 12:00 AM Germania Anno Zero - (1947)
A young boy fighting to survive in postwar Germany falls under a former teacher's corruptive influence. Edmund Moeschke, Ingetraud Hinze, Franz-Otto Kr¿ger D:Roberto Rossellini 78 m

Jun 14 01:30 AM Stromboli - (1950)
A refugee marries a Sicilian fisherman but can't cope with the harshness of her new life. Ingrid Bergman, Mario Vitale, Renzo Cesana. D:Roberto Rossellini. BW 107 m

Jun 14 03:30 AM Last Days of Pompeii, The - (1913)
A corrupt priest tries to steal a young innocent from her true love. Fernando Negri, Urbaldo Stefani, Eugenio Tettoni. D:Mario Caserini. 90 m

Jun 14 05:00 AM Cabiria - (1914)
A Roman spy tries to save a kidnapped girl from a bloodthirsty religious cult. Italia Almirante-Manzini, Lidia Quaranta, Umberto Mozzato. D:Giovanni Pastrone. 123 m

Jun 21 08:00 PM Ossessione - (1942)
A restaurant owner's wife and her lover plot to kill her husband. Clara Calamai, Massimo Girotti, Dhia Cristiani. D:Luchino Visconti. 112 m

Jun 21 10:30 PM La Terra Trema - (1947)
Poor Sicilian fishermen fight to escape exploitation by the wholesalers who control the market. Luchino Visconti, Antonio Pietrangeli, Antonio Arcidiacono. D:Luchino Visconti. 120 m

Jun 21 01:30 AM Senso - (1954)
As a war rages, an Italian countess leaves her husband for an Austrian officer. Alida Valli, Farley Granger, Massimo Girotti. D:Luchino Visconti. C 117 m

Jun 21 03:30 AM Rocco And His Brothers - (1960)
When a widow's family moves to the big city, two of her sons become romantic rivals, with deadly results. Alain Delon, Renato Salvatori, Annie Giradot. D:Luchino Visconti. BW LBX 176 m

Jun 28 08:00 PM 8 1/2 - (1963)
A world-famous film director juggles his romantic relationships while trying to come up with an idea for his next picture. Marcello Mastroianni, Claudia Cardinale, Anouk Aimee. D:Federico Fellini. BW LBX 138 m

Jun 28 10:30 PM La Strada - (1954)
A traveling strong man buys a peasant girl to be his wife and co-star. Giulietta Masina, Anthony Quinn, Richard Basehart. D:Federico Fellini. BW 107 m

Jun 28 12:30 AM White Sheik, The - (1952)
Newlyweds are driven apart by the wife's infatuation with a comic strip hero. Alberto Sordi, Brunella Bovo, Giulietta Masina. D:Federico Fellini. BW 84 m

Jun 28 02:00 AM Iron Crown, The - (1941)
A corrupt medieval ruler courts disaster when he ignores the legends surrounding his crown. Massimo Girotti, Gino Cervo, Elisa Cegani. D:Alessandro Blassetti. BW 97 m

Jun 28 03:45 AM L'Avventura - (1960)
When an heiress vanishes on a remote island, her best friend and fiance search for her. Monica Vitti, Gabriele Ferzetti, Lea Massari. D:Michelangelo Antonioni. C LBX 144 m

Jun 29 06:15 AM La Notte - (1961)
A successful writer and his wife face the meaninglessness of their relationship during a night of wild partying. Marcello Mastroianni, Jeanne Moreau, Monica Vitti. D:Michelangelo Antonioni. BW LBX 115 m
 

Robert Crawford

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Jim,
For the true film buff, who is usually not obsessed with just one trilogy of films, these type of threads are very helpful to him.
Also, in June on TCM there is going to be a very rare showing of one of my favorite John Wayne westerns. The film is "Hondo" and it's one of the Duke's best.
  • "Hondo" showing on TCM, June 11th @ 8:00 p.m. ET
Crawdaddy
 

Robert Crawford

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Like most people, a true film buff might lose track of what's playing on movie channels due to time restraints associated with living in today's world.:)
Crawdaddy
 

Duane Robinson

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What's a buff? I know what a muff is but I don't think we can discuss that on this site so could someone tell me where the term buff came from. Sorry if I unintentionally hijack this thread. Back on topic, thanks for the listing. I always wanted to see 8 1/2 but I didn't want to spend the money on the Criterion version without knowing if I would like it or not. Thank God for TCM, especially since AMC has turned to crap these days.
 

Jim Rankin

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La Strada said:
Duane, I just purchased this film a month ago and absolutely loved it - the most common criticism I hear about it is how indulgent it is - yes it is probably to a degree, but I think it take's a lot of balls to shine the spotlight so harshly into your own life - to examine your flaws and failed relationships, let alone make a film about it! :) Regards, Jim
 

teapot2001

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Jim, in your thread that gave notice of the Sundance or IFC movies, I remarked playfully because those movies are shown constantly. You were not aware of that, but it was perfectly fine to give notices to everyone. I've done the same myself on here. I realize these threads don't receive many views, but at least we are trying to share our enthusiasm for these movies with others. This thread shouldn't be of interest to just "true film buffs," but also to everyone who has TCM.

~T
 

Rich Malloy

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Alright - I finally get to see that Scorsese movie!!!
Any recommendations for the taping? Will there be a tape-switching intermission at any point? :)
 

teapot2001

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It might be possible to squeeze it into a 4-hour recording. Oh, if you have Tivo, record it on there. Then it'll be simple to transfer it to multiple tapes.

~T
 

Brook K

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Personally I don't find a great deal of difference between taping something at SP and EP especially with the advent of DVD. I just tape on EP and figure if I like it enough to want to keep it, I'll probably be able to upgrade at some point.

I'm going to have to buy more tapes, there's a lot of films there I've wanted to see for along time, especially the Visconti and Rossellini.
 

Jason_Els

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Thank you for notifying us! I'm drooling already!! Italian cinema! The list alone is worth a graduate course. I can't wait!
 

Jim Rankin

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Grazie!
Prego!
Can anyone here comment on the films from Luchino Visconti? I don't believe I have ever seen a film from him and was wondering what your opinions are?? 3 of the 4 films showing from him got pretty high marks according to my video companion guide. Regards, Jim
 

Jun-Dai Bates

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Can anyone here comment on the films from Luchino Visconti? I don't believe I have ever seen a film from him and was wondering what your opinions are?? 3 of the 4 films showing from him got pretty high marks according to my video companion guide. Regards, Jim
La Terra Trema and The Leopard are the two best of his films that I've seen. The Leopard has become quite rare (Fox, will you please put it out?), so it's no surprise that TCM isn't showing that one.

One of my film professors claimed that in all the films he'd seen, he could think of only two great (first-rate) films that were based on first-rate novels--one of them being La Terra Trema, and the other being Bresson's Pickpocket. I don't know that I agree with him, but there are certainly few examples, and this is certainly one of them.

If you watch more than a few of the films in the list, then you'll probably develop (if you haven't already) an understanding of what the neorealist movement was about (especially if you watch Rossellini's films). La Terra Trema and Ossessione are critical films from this movement, and important to any study of it.

The arrival of neorealism is considered by many to be one of, if not the most critical point in film history. From neorealism came the French new wave (and all the other new waves). Visconti, Antonioni, Fellini, and Pasolini all came out of the neorealism one way or another. It's not hard to see the influence of neorealism throughout the second half of the 20th century. Of course neorealism has its own roots--in literature as well as other film--but in neorealism, some important ideas and conventions were brought together into a single self-conscious movement. The beginning of the neorealist movement can be pinpointed in two films: Ossessione and (Rossellini's) Open City.

Ossessione probably would have had a greater impact, had it not been released during the war (1943). It was largely censored, and so there wasn't so much of a public awareness of it at the time it came out--particularly on the international scene. Open City--the second neorealist film--on the other hand, brought Italian cinema to the world for the first time in decades (it came to the US in 1946). It was so successful, critically as well as financially, that the neorealist movement was born, and in the next ten years Italian cinema was synonymous with neorealism.

The most peculiar thing about Ossessione as a neorealist film is that it is based on a novel that has at first glance as little to do with neorealism as imaginable: The Postman Always Rings Twice. Because the rights to the novel were never secured (impossible at the time it was made), and Hollywood had released an adaptation of its own, it was not possible to see it in America for a long time after its release.

Noir films and hard-boiled novels were allowed into Italy during fascism, when most films were not. The reason had to do with the gritty world view that these works contained; they presented a thoroughly unglamorous view of America. It was for this reason that Visconti was allowed to film Ossessione. It was imagined that the film would be set in America, and portray America has a hopelessly desparate place, as the novel does. But Visconti chose to adapt the film to become an Italian story. He chose to set it in Po Valley, which was unheard of at the time (most Italian films were made in the studios at Cinecitta in Rome). He made many other changes to the novel, transforming it from an over-the-top gritty novel into a gritty semi-realistic film revealing a side of Italy not generally shown in films before. Against these realistic elements, however, you can see something of Visconti's "operatic" style. The fantastic and fluid photography is unlike that in other neorealistic films.

La Terra Trema was a more earnest attempt to get at the heart of neorealism, more successful in some ways than any other. Visconti went to the town in which I Malavoglia (the book the film is based upon) is set, and hired local people (fishermen, I believe) as actors. He moved the novel to the present day (the novel was written in the 19th century), but it's in a place so far removed from city life that it hardly makes a difference (incidentally, the village, Aci Trezza, is supposed to be where the Cyclops threw three rocks at Odysseus as he flees in a ship). The story is a realist masterpiece (and incidentally out of print in the US), and Visconti handles it as well as anyone has ever handled any story.

Senso is a weaker film. According to the imdb, it is Italy's first color film. It is the epitome of melodrama (the story is just as bad), featuring Farley Granger and Alida Valli. It is a beautiful film in many ways, but you have to be able to tolerate the very unsympathetic (and extremely selfish) characters. To me Senso is a good film, but a significant decline from La Terra Trema.

Rocco and His Brothers is probably the worst Visconti film I've seen. As a film about boxers it has nothing on Raging Bull. Alain Delon is the most unconvincing boxer ever. The characters of the film are despicable (our hero, Rocco, blames Nadia for being raped by his brother and abandons her when she needs him most). This film is about as much of a departure from neorealism as Visconti could have made. I don't recommend this film to anyone.

I particularly urge anyone interested to try and catch La Terra Trema and Ossessione. These films are very difficult to come by, and well worth your time (probably they will not see the light of dvd). Rocco is available on dvd, and Senso was available a while back and probably will be again (so it is no real shame if you miss them). I'd eat my hat if you ever found La Terra Trema or Ossessione available at Blockbuster. Once you've seen these two films, I think it is worth looking up some commentary on the films or see them again to better appreciate the nuances that help make these films so great. Also, you might give I Malavoglia a read if you can find a copy (it's available in Britain).
 

Jim Rankin

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Holy Smokes - excellent post Jun-Dai, very informative and very appropriate for this subject, sounds like you did your homework!;) I for one will heed your recommendations.
One question I have for you - on other sites I have seen how De Sica's films in particular The Bicycle Thief was considered the epitome of the Italian neo-realist movement, yet I noticed you omitted him from your post - any particular reason?? Thanks again for your insight very fascinating material - regards, Jim.
 

Jun-Dai Bates

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The Bicycle Thief is an excellent film. In some ways it is also the epitome of neorealism. That is to say, in it you can see more clearly than in any other film the conventions of neorealism: nonprofessional actors, children as witnesses, and an affectionate but not romanticized view of poverty. This film was also a success, but by the time it came out (1948, i think) neorealism was already in full swing. Many people use this film as the primary example of neorealism, but I would sooner use La Terra Trema and Open City. The latter because it is in some ways the first neorealist film--without it neorealism might not have happened at all. Few films have had such a profound impact on filmmaking. Also, of all the directors from the movement, Rossellini was the most dedicated to it.

La Terra Trema might not be the idealized neorealist film that The Bicycle Thief is, but to me it captures the spirit of what the neorealist movement is more than any other. This is because of the story. Rather than take a simple and beautiful story like in The Bicycle Thief (which is very much like a fable), La Terra Trema has a story that is much more like life: complicated and ongoing (the film ends in a way that leaves you thinking about the future of the characters). Tragedy is minimized--in a place like Aci Trezza, death is frequent and you can't afford to spend time mourning. The characters and their lives are much more believable in La Terra Trema, and to me that makes it more powerful, and a better film (or at least one that exemplifies the ideas behind neorealism better).

Incidentally, The Bicycle Thief is a mistranslation of the Italian title (Ladri di biciclette), which is better translated as Bicycle Thieves. This mistranslation captures the difference between what neorealism is about and what Americans focus on in films (or what our distributors believe we focus on). "The Bicycle Thief" implies that the focus of the film is either the anonymous person that steals Ricci's bike, or Ricci himself. "Bicycle Thieves" implies that the focus is really on a segment of the population of Rome: a whole society of bicycle thieves.

So I recommend catching Bicycle Thieves, but I'd sooner recommend La Terra Trema and Open City. I also suggest catching Ossessione and Paisan (a series of short stories. Some are profound, while others are quite uninteresting. The film is worth it for those profound stories).

Outside of neorealism, I'd recommend 8 1/2 and L'Avventura. If you haven't seen these films, you're missing films that are just as good and just as important as Citizen Kane or Rules of the Game.
 

Rich Malloy

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For those who're looking for a little Italian viewing guide, TCM set this up perfectly!

Though I haven't yet seen it, Scorsese's film (which opens the Italian program) goes over the entire history of Italian film, with a particular emphasis on neo-realism, but not at all limited to that movement. I believe he goes on at least as far as Fellini's later work and Antonioni. This should be a wonderful primer for all the films to follow!

Jim, a big thanks for the heads-up on "The Leopard" being shown on Fox Movie Channel - I've never, ever seen it!
 

Clint B

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Sorry to sound naive, but I don't know much about most of these films. Are all of them being shown in their OAR?
 

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