BELLISSIMA
1951, Movietime, 108 min, Dir: Luchino Visconti

Anna Magnani is unforgettable as Maddalena, a working-class Italian convinced that her daughter could be the next Shirley Temple. Against the advice of her husband (Gastone Renzelli), Maddalena spends a small fortune on clothes, hairstyling, ballet lessons and anything that might give little Maria (Tina Apicella) the edge in auditions – only to discover that the movie business isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. Real-life director Alessandro Blasetti plays himself in the neorealist dramedy, which reportedly was inspired when Visconti cast a child’s role in an earlier production and was deluged by stage mothers.


MAMMA ROMA
1962, Janus Films, 110 min, Italy, Dir: Pier Paolo Pasolini

Middle-aged prostitute Mamma Roma (Anna Magnani) retires from the streets and reunites with her teenage son, who has grown up in the country. Though she does everything in her power to provide a better life for him, the boy is drawn to delinquency. Anchored by Magnani’s towering central performance, this tragic portrait of Rome’s cruel underbelly is one of Pasolini’s most moving. In Italian with English subtitles.


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