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1926, 144 min, Italy, Dir: Carmine Gallone, Amleto Palermi

Based on Edward Bulwer-Lytton's popular 19th-century historical novel of the same title, THE LAST DAYS OF POMPEII centers on the ardent love between young dandy Glaucus and the beautiful Ione in the days leading up to Mount Vesuvius' devastating eruption. It was Italy's most expensive production up to that point, with sumptuous, extravagant sets and photography re-envisioning a standing Pompeii followed by the volcano's annihilative mayhem, and one of the grandest examples of early cinema's fascination with the legendary natural disaster. With Victor Varconi, Rina De Liguoro and María Corda.

1952, Janus Films, 97 min, Dir: Max Ophuls

Max Ophuls brings his opulent, dazzling style to this triptych of tales by Guy de Maupassant about the ironies, compromises and pleasures of the human condition. Set in an array of richly textured, late 19th-century locales, spanning the bucolic French countryside to the artists’ studios and urban bordellos of Paris. With an all-star French cast including Jean Gabin, Simone Simon and Danielle Darrieux. Stanley Kubrick once named it as his favorite film. In French with English subtitles.

1990, Orion Classics, 135 min, France, Dir: Jean-Paul Rappeneau

Seventeenth-century France is the setting for this great tragicomic, swashbuckling film. Cyrano (Gérard Depardieu) is a soldier-poet, expert in fighting but shy in love and embarrassed by his large nose. He must vie with the powerful Comte de Guiche and the handsome Christian for the love of the gorgeous Roxane. This is certainly the greatest version of Edmond Rostand’s famed play, with an incredible lead performance by Depardieu. The film was nominated for several Oscars and won many Cesars, including Best Director, Best Actor and Best Film. In French with English subtitles.

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