SANDRA
VAGHE STELLA DELL’ORSA…
1965, Sony Repertory, 105 min, Italy/France, Dir: Luchino Visconti

Inspired by the Greek myth of Electra, this multi-layered drama stars Claudia Cardinale as Sandra Dawdson, who returns with her husband (Michael Craig) to her ancestral home in Volterra, Italy, ostensibly for a tribute to her father, who had been killed by the Nazis. When Sandra’s brother (Jean Sorel) arrives, there is a strange attraction between the siblings – is it related to their father’s murder, or something more? The Golden Lion winner at the 1965 Venice Film Festival.


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 her 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 plague 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.


LUDWIG
1973, AGFA, 238 min, Italy/France/West Germany, Dir: Luchino Visconti

Presented in its complete form in accordance with the director’s wishes, this look at the life and death of King Ludwig II of Bavaria is as opulent as any of Visconti’s sagas - a sweeping four-hour epic of 19th-century decadence. Dominated by Helmut Berger (THE DAMNED, DORIAN GRAY) in the title role, LUDWIG boasts an impressive cast: Romy Schneider (reprising her Elisabeth of Austria characterization from the SISSI trilogy), Silvana Mangano (BITTER RICE), Gert Fröbe (GOLDFINGER), John Moulder-Brown (DEEP END) and Trevor Howard (BRIEF ENCOUNTER).


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