OH! WHAT A LOVELY WAR
1969, Paramount, 136 min, UK, Dir: Richard Attenborough

In this dazzling directorial debut from Richard Attenborough, a working class family is confronted with the unfathomable realities of World War I, after three brothers witness trench warfare first hand. This is no ordinary war film, however, as Attenborough injects humor, dazzling camera effects, and music into this otherwise stark reality. Thus by fusing the surreal with the factual, and juxtaposing savagely funny satire with quiet sorrow, Attenborough creates a powerful anti-war statement like no other. Based on the stage musical by the same name, OH! WHAT A LOVELY WAR features a stellar cast that includes Laurence Olivier, Ralph Richardson, John Mills, John Gielgud, Maggie Smith, Vanessa Redgrave, Ian Holm, Dirk Bogarde and Susannah York.


THE DAMNED (1969)
LA CADUTA DEGLI DEI
1969, 156 min, Italy/West Germany, Dir: Luchino Visconti

Director Luchino Visconti's astounding, sumptuous chronicle of the fall of the German Von Essenbeck dynasty during the rise of Hitler and the Nazi Party. Scheming Sophie (Ingrid Thulin), scion of the dying aristocratic family, goads husband Frederick (Dirk Bogarde) to commit all manner of heinous acts to usurp control of the clan's munitions factories. As the brutally repressive forces of Nazism bloom into full flower, a series of personal betrayals plagues their immediate relatives as well as all of their acquaintances, culminating in the first of Hitler's purges, the Night of the Long Knives. Sophie and Frederick's corrupt empire grows by nefarious means, but they don't count on Sophie's mentally deranged, pedophile son Martin (Helmut Berger), who surpasses them all in not only decadence and depravity but also in his bottomless capacity for vindictive evil. Maurice Jarre supplies one of his most memorable, operatic scores. With Charlotte Rampling, Florinda Bolkan, Helmut Griem and Umberto Orsini.


DEATH IN VENICE
MORTE A VENEZIA
1971, Warner Bros., 130 min, Dir: Luchino Visconti

Adapted from the Thomas Mann novella, this haunting drama follows an ailing German composer (Dirk Bogarde) who travels to Venice hoping to regain his health and creativity. He spots a young boy who embodies his ideal of classic beauty, and becomes dangerously fixated on him as a plague spreads through Venice. This is among Visconti’s most sumptuously mounted period films, featuring music by Gustav Mahler (whose life served as partial inspiration for the screenplay), BAFTA-winning cinematography by Pasqualino De Santis and Oscar-nominated costume design by Piero Tosi. Costarring Marisa Berenson.


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