SENSO
1954, Rialto Pictures, 123 min, Italy, Dir: Luchino Visconti

Against the backdrop of the Italian-Austrian war of unification, troubled Countess Livia Serpieri (Alida Valli) betrays her country for the love of an Austrian rogue, Franz Mahler (Farley Granger). As her resources dwindle, Livia comes to realize that their love might not be as pure as she thought. "A passionate and melodramatic romance, with doomed lovers, posturing soldiers, secret meetings at midnight, bold adultery and dramatic deaths. ... SENSO is lush, broadly emotional and beautifully photographed." - Roger Ebert.


BILLY BUDD
1962, Warner Bros., 123 min, UK, Dir: Peter Ustinov

Herman Melville’s last novel was staged in 1951 as both a Benjamin Britten opera and a Broadway play; the latter served as the basis for this superb high-seas adventure. Peter Ustinov directs and co-stars as the captain of a British ship during the Napoleonic wars who gives his Master of Arms (an unforgettably cruel Robert Ryan) a free hand, leading to tragic consequences. In the title role as a young sailor pressed into service, Terence Stamp earned an Oscar nomination.


HENRY V (1944)
1944, Sony Repertory, 137 min, UK, Dir: Laurence Olivier

Winston Churchill wanted a morale booster for British troops in WWII and got more than he could have possibly imagined in what is arguably the first great Shakespeare film. Laurence Olivier directs and stars as the 15th-century warrior king, leading his troops to victory against the French at Agincourt. Brilliantly framed with sequences depicting the play’s performance at the Globe Theatre, this Technicolor tour-de-force was nominated for four Oscars, with Olivier receiving an honorary award for his yeoman work. Once more unto the breach!


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