My pal Ray, today
(1) Roma, città aperta / Open City (1945)
This makes my list as the Italian film that I have not seen, that I would most like to see. I just missed it at TCM recently. I'll make a DVD, next time. No list of Italian movies would be complete without at least one featuring the great Anna Magnani, as this one does. It's one of the great classics of Italian Neorealism, I do believe.
(2) La Dolce vita (1960), Federico Fellini
More telling than ever in this age of celebrity, which was in full swing back in 1960. Who can forget Anita Ekberg in the Trevi fountain? Water+light+glamor+sex=the definition of celebrity. Like many "blonde bombshells," Ekberg never got the credit she deserved as an actress. Society of the spectacle? Forget Guy Debord, it's all right here. Just kidding about Debord… "a social relationship between people that is mediated by images." Fellini saw it coming, saw it right there, in fact. Plus, there's Marcello Mastroianni, there's Bach…
(3) La Maschera del demonio / Black Sunday (1960), Mario Bava
How many mediocre scripts did Bava turn into movies that were compelling just because of the stunning color? A bunch. This one's in black and white, though. Such black and white, light and shadow, so beautiful, so full of atmosphere, so… composed. So moody, baby. Was this the film that made Barbara Steele "The Queen of Horror." I believe so.
(4) L'Eclisse / The Eclipse (1962), Michelangelo Antonioin
I had started to write about The Passenger, but then I thought that it was not an Italian film, only one of the greatest movies ever made, with an Italian director. Caertainly, there is a strong argument for L'Eclisse as one of the "greatest movies ever made," whatever that means. What it means in this case is amazing long takes, visual psychology, character created via cinematic poetry, all so hypnotic, so haunting.
(5) My Name Is Nobody / Il Mio nome è Nessuno (1973), Tonino Valerii
This film bugged me when I first saw it. How can you mock something (earlier Spaghetti Westerns) that is already a mockery (of Western movie conventions)? But then I thought about it, and it cracked me up. It's a mockery of a mockery, homage to the homage, homage to the mockery, a mockery of the homage, and it flies right back to Laurel & Hardy, as well as William S. Hart. Kaboom. Fonda is splendid. Terence Hill is all kinetic comedy, and dazzling action. No, they are not Spaghetti Westerns, that's a misnomer. They are Layer Cake Westerns, and this one has more layers than most. What fun. What great movieness.