Bellissima: Leading Ladies of the Italian Screen

7/6/12 to 8/31/12

This summer, take a tour through postwar Italian film, with visits to major cinematic landmarks as well as less traveled byways. Each stop along the route brings an encounter with another unforgettable actress: Anna Magnani, Giulietta Masina, Gina Lollobrigida, Sophia Loren, Claudia Cardinale, Tina Pica, and Monica Vitti.

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Past Films

  • Drama of Jealousy

    • Friday, August 31 7 pm

    Ettore Scola (Italy/Spain, 1970) Imported Print! Monica Vitti turns her Antonioni-honed angst to parodic purposes in this antic avant-farce. Vitti plays one point of an irregular triangle with feckless leftist bricklayer Marcello Mastroianni and sullen pizza maker Giancarlo Giannini in this satire and celebration of narrative excess. (107 mins)

  • The Widower

    • Friday, August 24 7 pm

    Dino Risi (Italy, 1959) Imported Print! In Risi's rarely screened comedy of commerce, marriage, and murder, Alberto Sordi exercises his talent for emphatic incompetence as Alberto Nardi, a cash-strapped Italian industrialist whose elegant wife, Elvira (Franca Valeri), holds him in well-justified contempt. (100 mins)

  • Oh! Sabella!

    • Wednesday, August 22 7 pm

    Dino Risi (Italy/France, 1957). Imported Print! Veteran character actress Tina Pica dominates Dino Risi's boisterous provincial comedy as Sabella, a grandmother as gravelly, ancient, and immovable as the hills around the little village whose populace she terrorizes. (95 mins)

  • Old-Fashioned World

    • Friday, August 17 7 pm

    Mario Soldati (Italy, 1941). Imported Print! In Austrian-occupied Lombardy in 1850, a young aristocrat (Massimo Serato) marries the humble Luisa (Alida Valli), incurring the wrath of his grandmother, a marchioness. This was the role that established Valli as a serious actress. (106 mins)

  • Vanina Vanini

    • Wednesday, August 15 7 pm

    Roberto Rossellini (Italy, 1961). Studio Vault Print! Sandra Milo won Best Actress at Venice with her performance as the daughter of a Roman aristocrat who falls in love with a wounded patriot. Based on a story by Stendhal, Rossellini's last commercial feature is set in 1824, during the Risorgimento. (113 mins)

  • Bread, Love and Dreams

    • Saturday, August 11 6 pm

    Luigi Comencini (Italy, 1953). Imported Print! Gina Lollobrigida gives a comedic, tongue-in-cheek performance as the village gamine in this rollicking Italian comedy; her rags can't quite cover her almost animal “femininity.” Lollobrigida was the quintessential maggiorata: bread, love, and dream all rolled into one. (93 mins)

  • L'amore

    • Friday, August 10 7 pm

    Roberto Rossellini (Italy, 1948). An epigraph from Rossellini calls this two-part film “an homage to the art of Anna Magnani.” Based on a Cocteau play, part one focuses on the voice-and face-of a desolate Magnani, while in part two a coarse, funny Magnani plays a goatherd impregnated by a stranger (Federico Fellini!). (78 mins)

  • Mamma Roma

    • Wednesday, August 1 7 pm

    Pier Paolo Pasolini (Italy, 1962). Pasolini captured the great Anna Magnani “like a found object” (Village Voice) in her role as a spirited prostitute; her downtrodden exuberance stands in for Rome itself. (105 mins)

  • Bellissima

    • Saturday, July 28 5:30 pm

    Luchino Visconti (Italy, 1953). Imported Print! Visconti is in an unusually comic mode for this satire on urban life and movie-land ambition. The incomparable Anna Magnani plays a mother trying to launch her young daughter in show business. (114 mins)

  • Open City

    • Wednesday, July 25 7 pm

    Roberto Rossellini (Italy, 1945). Restored Print! A group of women and children try to shelter resistance forces from the Nazis. A Rossellini/Magnani classic-as moving and agonizing today as it was in 1945. (106 mins)

  • The Girl with a Suitcase

    • Saturday, July 21 6 pm

    Valerio Zurlini (Italy/France, 1961) Imported Print! With this film, Claudia Cardinale etched her wistful, playful character whose edge comes from the reality that she never knows where her next meal is coming from. Claudia plays a showgirl seduced away from her act by a playboy aristocrat, only to become the object of fascination for the man's teenage brother. (113 mins)

  • Sandra

    • Wednesday, July 18 7 pm

    Luchino Visconti (Italy, 1965). Studio Vault Print! Visconti's somber mood piece is an Elektra story of madness and incestuous passions in a family haunted by secrets and the shadow of the Holocaust. Claudia Cardinale stars with Jean Sorel and Marie Bell. (102 mins)

  • Juliet of the Spirits

    • Saturday, July 14 6 pm

    Federico Fellini (Italy, 1965). A bourgeois housewife (a mesmerizing Giulietta Masina) embraces a world of fantasy in one of Fellini's most spectacular, imaginative works. (148 mins)

  • The Leopard

    • Friday, July 13 7 pm

    Luchino Visconti (Italy, 1963) Restored Print! A compelling Claudia Cardinale anchors Visconti's effortless integration of family history into a panoramic account of the Risorgimento. “Perhaps no film captures the Proustian aesthetic more firmly” (Warren Sonbert). (186 mins)

  • Nights of Cabiria

    • Wednesday, July 11 7 pm

    Federico Fellini (Italy, 1956). The great Giulietta Masina portrays the spunky prostitute Cabiria in this humorous and ultimately transformative story of the survival of the human spirit by one of cinema's greatest filmmakers. “The masterpiece of Masina's collaboration with Fellini” (Albert Johnson). (116 mins)

  • La strada

    • Saturday, July 7 8:30 pm

    Federico Fellini (Italy, 1954). Fellini's muse, Giulietta Masina, modeled her timeless character Gelsomina after Chaplin's tramp. She stars with Anthony Quinn in this classic that Martin Scorsese has called "the cornerstone of Fellini's work.” (107 mins)

  • Le amiche

    • Friday, July 6 7 pm

    Michelangelo Antonioni (Italy, 1955). Restored 35mm Print! This early Antonioni tour de force masterfully weaves a web of relationships among an ensemble of desperate upper-class Italian housewives. (104 mins)