The 40 Essential Italian Movies

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1.
(1963)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A harried movie director retreats into his memories and fantasies. (138 mins.)
 
2.
La Dolce Vita (1960)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A series of stories following a week in the life of a philandering paparazzo journalist living in Rome. (174 mins.)
 
3.
La Strada (1954)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A care-free girl is sold to a traveling entertainer, consequently enduring physical and emotional pain along the way. (108 mins.)
 
4.
Amarcord (1973)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A series of comedic and nostalgic vignettes set in a 1930s Italian coastal town. (123 mins.)
 
5.
Nights of Cabiria (1957)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
A waifish prostitute wanders the streets of Rome looking for true love but finds only heartbreak. (110 mins.)
 
6.
Rocco and His Brothers (1960)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
Having recently been uprooted to Milan, Rocco and his four brothers each look for a new way in life when a prostitute comes between Rocco and his brother Simone. (177 mins.)
 
7.
Death in Venice (1971)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
In this adaptation of the Thomas Mann novel, avant-garde composer Gustave Aschenbach (loosely based... (130 mins.)
 
8.
The Leopard (1963)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
The Prince of Salina, a noble aristocrat of impeccable integrity, tries to preserve his family and class amid the tumultuous social upheavals of 1860's Sicily. (187 mins.)
 
9.
Ossessione (1943)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Gino, a drifter, begins an affair with inn-owner Giovanna as they plan to get rid of her older husband. (140 mins.)
 
10.
Le Notti Bianche (1957)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A humble clerk courts a woman who night after night awaits for the return of her lover. (107 mins.)
 
11.
Rome, Open City (1945)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
During the Nazi occupation of Rome in 1944, resistance leader Giorgio Manfredi is chased by Nazis and he seeks refuge and escape. (103 mins.)
 
12.
Germany Year Zero (1948)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
A young German boy faces the problems of the tough life in the immediate post WWII Berlin. (78 mins.)
 
13.
Paisan (1946)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Six vignettes follow the Allied invasion from July 1943 to winter 1944, from Sicily north to Venice... (125 mins.)
 
14.
Bicycle Thieves (1948)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
Set in Post-WWII Italy, a working class man's bicycle is stolen. He and his son set out to find it. (89 mins.)
 
15.
Umberto D. (1952)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
A elderly man and his dog struggle to survive on his government pension in Rome. (89 mins.)
 
16.
Two Women (1960)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
In the Italy of WWII, a widow and her lonely daughter seek for distance between them and the horrors of war. (100 mins.)
 
17.
Shoeshine (1946)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
Two shoeshine boys in postwar Rome, Italy, save up to buy a horse, but their involvement as dupes in a burglary lands them in juvenile prison where the experience take a devastating toll on their friendship. (93 mins.)
 
18.
L'Avventura (1960)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A woman disappears during a Mediterranean boating trip. During the search, her lover and her best friend become attracted to each other. (143 mins.)
 
19.
La Notte (1961)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A day in the life of an unfaithful married couple and their steadily deteriorating relationship. (115 mins.)
 
20.
L'Eclisse (1962)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
A young woman meets a vital young man, but their love affair is doomed because of the man's materialistic nature. (126 mins.)
 
21.
Black Sunday (1960)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A vengeful witch and her fiendish servant return from the grave and begin a bloody campaign to possess the body of the witch's beautiful look-alike descendant. Only the girl's brother and a handsome doctor stand in her way. (87 mins.)
Director: Mario Bava
 
22.
Life Is Beautiful (1997)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
When an open-minded Jewish librarian and his son become victims of the Holocaust, he uses a perfect mixture of will, humor and imagination to protect his son from the dangers around their camp. (116 mins.)
Director: Roberto Benigni
 
23.
Cinema Paradiso (1988)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
A filmmaker recalls his childhood, when he fell in love with the movies at his village's theater and formed a deep friendship with the theater's projectionist. (155 mins.)
 
24.
Il Postino: The Postman (1994)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Simple Italian postman learns to love poetry while delivering mail to a famous poet; he uses this to woo local beauty Beatrice. (108 mins.)
Director: Michael Radford
 
25.
The Best of Youth (2003)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
An Italian epic that follows the lives of two brothers, from the 1960s to the 2000s. (383 mins.)
 
26.
Malèna (2000)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A woman provokes sensual awakenings in a group of adolescent boys. (109 mins.)
 
27.
1900 (1976)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
The epic tale of a class struggle in 20th Century Italy, as seen through the eyes of two childhood friends on opposing sides. (317 mins.)
 
28.
The Conformist (1970)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A weak-willed Italian man becomes a fascist flunky who goes abroad to arrange the assassination of his old teacher, now a political dissident. (111 mins.)
 
29.
The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
The life of Jesus Christ according to the Gospel of Matthew. Pasolini shows Christ as a marxist avant-la-lettre and therefore uses half of the text of Matthew. (137 mins.)
 
30.
Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.0/10 X  
Four fascist libertines round up nine adolescent boys and girls and subject them to one hundred and twenty days of physical, mental and sexual torture. (116 mins.)
 
31.
Teorema (1968)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A strange visitor in a wealthy family. He seduces the maid, the son, the mother, the daughter and finally the father before leaving a few days after... (105 mins.)
 
32.
Accattone (1961)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
A pimp with no other means to provide for himself finds his life spiraling out of control when his prostitute is sent to prison. (120 mins.)
 
33.
The Son's Room (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A psychoanalyst and his family go through profound emotional trauma when their son dies in a scuba diving accident. (99 mins.)
Director: Nanni Moretti
 
34.
Caro diario (1993)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Nanni Moretti directs himself playing himself in this wry look at life. Presented in three chapters... (100 mins.)
Director: Nanni Moretti
 
35.
The Battle of Algiers (1966)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
In the 1950s, fear and violence escalate as the people of Algiers fight for independence from the French government. (121 mins.)
 
36.
The Tree of Wooden Clogs (1978)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
The life inside a farm in Italy at the beginning of the century. Many poor country families live there... (186 mins.)
Director: Ermanno Olmi
 
37.
Suspiria (1977)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A newcomer to a fancy ballet academy gradually comes to realize that the school is a front for something far more sinister and supernatural amidst a series of grisly murders. (98 mins.)
Director: Dario Argento
 
38.
The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A writer is stalked by a serial killer after witnessing a murder attempt on one woman's life. (98 mins.)
Director: Dario Argento
 
39.
Deep Red (1975)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
After witnessing the murder of a famous psychic, a musician teams up with a feisty reporter to find the killer while evading attempts on their lives by the unseen assailant bent on keeping a dark secret buried. (126 mins.)
Director: Dario Argento
 
40.
Zombie (1979)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
Strangers searching for a young woman's missing father arrive at a tropical island where a doctor desperately searches for the cause and cure of a recent epidemic of the undead. (91 mins.)
Director: Lucio Fulci