Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Friday, 3 December 2010


Today, a selection of stills from Visconti films. Luchino Visconti who died in 1976 certainly left a great legacy of films and performances stretching back to the neo-realism of the '40s and LE TERRA TREMA and OBSESSIONE, and with Antonioni and Fellini remains one of that trio of great Italian directors. Performers like Bogarde, Lancaster, Delon, Schneider, Cardinale, Valli blossomed in films like SENSO, THE LEOPARD, SANDRA (VAGHE STELLE DELL'ORSA), the sensational THE DAMNED. DEATH IN VENICE and his monumental LUDWIG may be his most personal, and that interesting last two: CONVERSATION PIECE and his swansong with L'INNOCENTE in 1976 - one of the most ravishing costume films ever. Did any director do period recreations like Visconti, making films like THE LEOPARD endlessly fascinating and re-watchable. Its a perfect film of a book I love. SENSO from '54 also has a stunning peformance by Alida Valli. Visconti of course was an aristocrat [the Duke of Modrone] and, as per the books on him, certainly lived like one - reports of dining at the Visconti castle recall a lost world of opulence. His theatre and opera productions were also legendary, including several key Maria Callas roles. [He also directed Delon and Schneider in Paris in '59 in a production of Ford's "Tis Pity She's A Whore", a clip of which used to be on YouTube. Michael Craig's memoir recounts how he liked working with Visconti on SANDRA and describes his working methods.]

Romy Schneider has one of her best moments in his episode from BOCCACCIO 70. Claudia is at her zenith in the 1965 drama SANDRA, and Helmut Berger was a sensation in THE DAMNED, ROCCO AND HIS BROTHERS launched Alain Delon to prominence. Ingrid Thulin scores in THE DAMNED, Silvana Mangano is almost silent in DEATH IN VENICE but is perfect in LUDWIG and CONVERSATION PIECE, a very mysterious film where reclusive professor (Lancaster) clashes with the noisy Eurotrash family (headed by Mangano and Berger) who move in upstairs. Schneider's mature SISSI is stunning in LUDWIG where Berger is perfectly cast - as are Trevor Howard and Mangano as the Wagners. The whole ensemble in L'INNOCENTE from the Gabriele D'Annunzio story is superb - perhaps only SENSO, THE LEOPARD, DEATH IN VENICE and Kubrick's BARRY LYNDON are more perfectly realised period recreations. The Verdi waltz and that sumptuous long ballroom sequence in THE LEOPARD is something one can experience over and over.

above: Visconti with Schneider and Berger on LUDWIG; Schneider in BOCCACCIO 70, Berger with Thulin in THE DAMNED, which also featured Charlotte Rampling and Florinda Bolkan in eye-catching roles; Berger and Lancaster in CONVERSATION PIECE and Mangano in the same film; right: THE DAMNED. See Visconti label for more on SANDRA (VAGHE STELLE DELL'ORSA). Visconti's '67 film of Camus' THE STRANGER with Mastroianni seems totally unavailable now, and of course his earlier films like BELLISSIMA with Magnani and WHITE NIGHTS are hard to see now.


  1. Visconti's period films have a sumptuousness and elegance that are in a class by themselves - also a decadence. They are fascinating to watch, just as the man himself was a fascinating paradox. I'm eagerly awaiting Criterion's forthcoming "Senso".

  2. BELLISSIMA is available on DVD in Great Britain from Masters of Cinema; WHITE NIGHTS is available on DVD from the Criterion Collection; both are excellent packages with very fine extras.

  3. I have downloaded a copy of "The Stranger" from eMule.
    Not great quality of image but it's a chance for enjoying it.

  4. Thanks for that info. I shall check it out.