|"Fantasmi a Roma"|
Antonio Pietrangeli: A Retrospective
December 3–18, 2015
The Roy and Niuta Titus Theaters – MoMA (11 West 53 Street New York, NY 10019)
The Museum of Modern Art celebrates the Italian cinema with Antonio Pietrangeli: A Retrospective (December 3–18, 2015), presented by MoMA, in collaboration with Luce Cinecittà, Rome, and organized by Dave Kehr, Adjunct Curator, Department of Film, MoMA, and Camilla Cormanni and Paola Ruggiero, Luce Cinecittà. Exploring the filmmaker’s career from the early 1950s to the mid-1960s, Antonio Pietrangeli will feature 11 feature films, from Pietrangeli’s best-known work to a number of rediscoveries.
The opening night will take place on Thursday, December 3rd at 8:00pm with the international premiere of the restored version of I Knew Her Well (Io La Conoscevo Bene) at MoMA. The film, which is also Pietrangeli’s last completed feauture, stars Ugo Tognazzi along with Stefania Sandrelli. Like an inversion of La Dolce Vita with a woman at its center, I Knew Her Well follows the gorgeous, seemingly liberated Adriana (Sandrelli) during the sixties in Rome, as she dallies with a wide variety of men, attends parties, goes to modeling gigs, and circulates among the rich and famous. "I Knew Her Well" will then open in New York at the Film Forum from February 5th, 2016. It is part of the Criterion Collection and will be released by Janus Films.
Antonio Pietrangeli passed away in Gaeta in 1968, while he was working on the film How, When and with Whom? (Come, Quando, Perché?). His sudden death, at age 49, was a tremendous loss for the world of Italian cinema. As a major practitioner of the Commedia all'Italiana genre and a leading figure of Neorealism, Pietrangeli explored the evolving role of women in Italian society after the fall of Fascism. From the provincial woman (Irene Galter), working as a maid in Rome in his first film, Empty Eyes (Il Sole Negli Occhi, 1953), to the amazed starlet (Stefania Sandrelli), suddenly elevated from the working class, in I Knew Her Well (Io La Conoscevo Bene, 1965), Pietrangeli’s protagonists experience the promises and dangers of a new yet ambiguous freedom.
Born in Rome and trained as a physician, Pietrangeli started his film career as an assistant on Luchino Visconti’s Obsession (Ossessione, 1943), and went on to contributing to the screenplays of Visconti’s La Terra Trema (1948) and Roberto Rossellini’s Europa ’51 (in which he also appears as a psychiatrist). But as a director, Pietrangeli quickly departed from the standards of Neorealism, plunging into the social satire of The Bachelor (Lo Scapolo, 1955, with Alberto Sordi), and flirting with the postcard romanticism of It Happened in Rome (Souvenir d’Italie, 1957) and the supernatural whimsy of Ghosts of Rome (Fantasmi a Roma, 1961, with Marcello Mastroianni). But it was with The Visit (La Visita), in 1963, that Pietrangeli found his signature style, combining a relaxed pace, an anecdotal structure, and an open visual field to create a sense of freedom and possibility, even as that freedom eludes his characters. Had Pietrangeli continued his work, he would have made a crucial contribution to the redefinition of cinema in the late 1960s, yet his completed films are more than enough to earn him a prominent position in the history of Italian film.
Antonio Pietrangeli: A Retrospective
“Io La Conoscevo Bene” (I Knew Her Well). 1965. Directed by Antonio Pietrangeli. Screenplay by Antonio Pietrangeli, Ruggero Maccari, Ettore Scola. With Stefania Sandrelli, Mario Adorf, Jean-Claude Brialy, Nino Manfredi, Ugo Tognazzi.
Pietrangeli’s best-known film stars the willowy Tuscan actress Stefania Sandrelli, who entered the movies as the 15-year-old winner of a provincial beauty contest, in a tragicomic twist on a story that might well have been her own. As the innocently sexual, minimally ambitious Adriana Astarelli, she’s a hairdresser who arrives in Rome as the protégé of a dubious promoter (Nino Manfredi) and finds herself drifting from man to man as she circles the periphery of modeling and show business. Indifferent to her own exploitation, she experiences a measure of material success without understanding what, if anything, she wants from life. 99 min.THU, DEC 3, 8:00 T1; FRI, DEC 18, 4:30 T2
“Adua e Le Compagne” (Adua and Her Friends). 1960. Directed by Antonio Pietrangeli. Screenplay by Antonio Pietrangeli, Ruggero Maccari, Tullio Pinelli, Ettore Scola. With Simone Signoret, Sandra Milo, Emmanuelle Riva, Marcello Mastroianni.
Reluctantly liberated when a reform movement closes the legal brothels of Italy in 1958, four Roman prostitutes (Simone Signoret, Sandra Milo, Emmanuelle Riva, and Gina Rovere) are forced to take their work underground, opening a restaurant on the outskirts of the city that will, under the orders of their shady sponsor (Claudia Gora) serve as a front while they practice their former profession in the rooms upstairs. But the restaurant proves to be a success, and the women find new loves and new happiness—until the sponsor decides that respectability isn’t profitable enough. A touching portrait of female friendship and a cutting indictment of social hypocrisy. 106 min.
FRI, DEC 4, 7:00 T2; THU, DEC 17, 4:30 T1
“La Visita” (The Visit). 1963. Directed by Antonio Pietrangeli. Screenplay by Antonio Pietrangeli, Gino De Santis, Ruggero Maccari, Ettore Scola. With Sandra Milo, François Périer, Mario Adorf. Adapted from a story by Carlo Cassola (La ragazza di Bube), Pietrangeli’s exquisite miniature describes the daylong encounter of two would-be lovers who meet through a lonely-hearts ad. Adolfo (the French performer François Périer) is a fussy Roman bookstore clerk who travels to the Po Valley to meet Pina (Sandra Milo), who works for an agricultural supply firm. Worried that their marriageable days are coming to an end, the two have already decided to fall in love with each other—but first they have to get acquainted. 86 min.
SAT, DEC 5, 5:00; WED, DEC 16, 4:30, T1
“Fantasmi a Roma” (Ghosts of Rome). 1961. Directed by Antonio Pietrangeli. Screenplay by Antonio Pietrangeli, Ennio Flaiano, Ruggero Maccari, Ettore Scola, Sergio Amidei. Cinematography byGiuseppe Rotunno. Music by Nino Rota. With Marcello Mastroianni, Sandra Milo, Eduardo De Filippo, Tino Buazzelli, Vittorio Gassman, Claudio Gora.
Pietrangeli’s star-studded comic fantasy displays the fine hand of the Roman satirist, playwright, and screenwriter Ennio Flaiano, fresh from the success of La Dolce vita. Life is still sweet for the aging aristocrat Prince Hannibal Roviano (Eduardo De Filippo), although he lives it alone among the ancestral ghosts who haunt the family mansion. But when the prince dies and ownership passes to his dissolute nephew (Marcello Mastroianni, in one of his three roles in the film), the ghosts must intervene to prevent the decaying palace from being turned into a discotheque. Their solution: recruit the ghost of a 16th-century painter (Vittorio Gassman) to whip up a hidden fresco magnificent enough to certify the building as a national treasure. 105 min.
SAT, DEC 5, 8:00; SUN, DEC 13, 5:30 T1
“Souvenir d’Italie” (It Happened in Rome). 1957. Directed by Antonio Pietrangeli. Screenplay by Antonio Pietrangeli, Fabio Carpi, Nelo Risi, Dario Fo, Agenore Incrocci, Furio Scarpelli. With June Laverick, Isabelle Coreyu, Ingeborg Schöner, Massimo Girotti, Vittorio De Sica. Filmed in frankly touristic color and widescreen, this international co-production appropriates one of Daryl F. Zanuck’s favorite plot devices, interlacing the amorous adventures of three young women thrown together by fate (and quite a team of screenwriters). The three coins in this fountain are the British June Laverick, the German Ingeborg Schöner, and the French Isabelle Corey (the sex bomb of Jean-Pierre Melville’s Bob le Flambeur) as tourists experiencing a ravishingly idealized Italy. Their suitors, appropriate and inappropriate, include Massimo Girotti, Vittorio De Sica, Gabriele Ferzetti, and Alberto Sordi. 100 min.
SUN, DEC 6, 2:30; FRI, DEC 11, 4:30 T1
“Lo Scapolo” (The Bachelor). 1955. Directed by Antonio Pietrangeli. Screenplay by Antonio Pietrangeli, Ruggero Maccari, Alessandro Continenza, Ettore Scola. With Alberto Sordi, Nino Manfredi, Rossana Podestà, Virna Lisi, Sandra Milo.
Pietrangeli’s second feature is a classic example of Commedia all’Italiana, starring the genre’s defining figure, Alberto Sordi, as a self-absorbed small businessman who prides himself on his dubious abilities as a ladykiller. But when the specter of loneliness finally looms, his search for a wife quickly turns desperate. 90 min.
SUN, DEC 6, 5:30; THU, DEC 10, 4:30 T1
“Il Sole Negli Occhi” (Empty Eyes). 1953. Directed by Antonio Pietrangeli. Screenplay by Antonio Pietrangeli, Ugo Pirro, Lucio Battistrada, Suso Cecchi D’Amico. With Irene Galter, Gabriele Ferzetti, Paolo Stoppa.
After a decade as a screenwriter and critic, Pietrangeli made his directorial debut with this striking example of late Neorealism, which announces most of his major themes. Celestina (Irene Galter) is a naïve peasant girl who leaves her small village to look for work as a maid in Rome, where her innocence is rapidly exploited by thoughtless employers and predatory men. She places all her trust in a handsome plumber (Gabriele Ferzetti), who vanishes the minute she discovers she is pregnant. Pietrangeli gracefully dramatizes her transition from country bumpkin to disillusioned urbanite, as she joins Rome’s sisterhood of exploited domestic workers. 98 min.
“Fata Marta” 1966. Directed by Antonio Pietrangeli. Screenplay by Rodolfo Sonego. With Alberto Sordi, Capucine, Olga Villi, Gigi Ballista, Anthony Steel.
Pietrangeli’s episode from the omnibus film Le Fate (The Queens)
MON, DEC 7, 4:30; WED, DEC 9, 4:30 T1
“"Nata di Marzo” (March’s Child). 1957. Directed by Antonio Pietrangeli. Screenplay by Antonio Pietrangeli, Agenore Incrocci, Ruggero Maccari, Furio Scarpelli, Ettore Scola. With Jacqueline Sassard, Gabriele Ferzetti, Tina De Mola, Gina Rovere.
A teenage girl (the French actress Jacqueline Sassard) falls passionately in love with an older architect (Pietrangeli regular Gabriele Ferzetti), but finds she isn’t prepared for the depth of emotion and unwavering commitment of a real marriage. 109 min.
MON, DEC 7, 8:00; SAT, DEC 12, 2:00 T1
“La Parmigiana” (The Girl from Parma). 1963. Directed by Antonio Pietrangeli. Screenplay by Antonio Pietrangeli, Bruna Piatti, Ruggero Maccari, Ettore Scola, Stefano Strucchi. With Nino Manfredi, Catherine Spaak, Salvo Randone.
Forced to leave her village because of a scandalous love affair with a seminarian, Dora (Catherine Spaak) looks for work and refuge in Parma, where she becomes involved with a petty criminal (Nino Manfredi). Another of Pietrangeli’s bitter comedies of deracination, reflecting the sudden urbanization of Italy during the industrial boom years of the late 1950s and early 1960s. 95 min.
“Il Magnifico Cornuto” (The Magnificent Cuckold). 1964. Directed by Antonio Pietrangeli. Screenplay by Diego Fabbri, Ruggero Maccari, Ettore Scola, Stefano Strucchi. With Claudia Cardinale, Ugo Tognazzi, Bernard Blier, Michèle Girardon, Gian Maria Volonte.
A happily married businessman (Ugo Tognazzi) allows himself to be seduced by the wife of a colleague—a meaningless affair that makes him realize how easy it would be for his young and beautiful wife (Claudia Cardinale) to betray him as he betrayed her. His unfounded suspicions grow into madness, as he obsessively imagines her in the arms of other men. Adapted from a 1921 farce by the Belgian playwright Fernand Crommelynck. 117 min.
TUE, DEC 8, 8:00; TUE, DEC 15, 4:30 T1