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

Inspired by the Greek myth of Electra, this multilayered 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 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.


CONVERSATION PIECE
GRUPPO DI FAMIGLIA IN UN INTERNO
1974, Minerva Pictures, 121 min, Dir: Luchino Visconti

Retired American professor Burt Lancaster lives a quiet, comfortable life in Rome surrounded by his books, paintings and other conversation pieces – until he is forced to rent a floor in his palazzo to a coarse marchesa (Silvana Mangano) and her companions. Visconti’s look at a bastion of tradition confronted by upper-class decadence earned a David di Donatello award for Best Film and boasts a strong cast including Helmut Berger and Claudia Cardinale.


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