Doomed love within a corrupt political world. At 18, the beautiful and smart Kira comes to Petersburg as the Communists consolidate power. She rebuffs a cousin who rises in the Party and ... See full summary »
The time is the Russian Revolution. The place is a country burdened with fear - the midnight knock at the door, the bread hidden against famine, the haunted eyes of the fleeing, the ... See full summary »
Approaching collapse, the nation's economy is quickly eroding. As crime and fear take over the countryside, the government continues to exert its brutal force against the nation's most ... See full summary »
Railroad owner Dagny Taggart and steel mogul Henry Rearden search desperately for the inventor of a revolutionary motor as the U.S. government continues to spread its control over the national economy.
Kay Gonda--the greatest movie star and celebrity of the 1930s--is accused of murder. On the run from the police, she seeks refuge at the homes of her most passionate fans--six men who have ... See full summary »
WE THE LIVING (Goffredo Alessandrini, 1942) ***1/2
I haven't watched that many Italian films made prior to the neo-realist movement but I knew of this film from "Leonard Maltin's Film Guide", so I taped it when shown on late-night TV some years ago. Though it had lain in my "VHS To Watch" pile since that time, I decided to give it a whirl now as a tribute to its leading lady Alida Valli - who died only last week!
The film's history is as convoluted as that of its narrative, which is close to 3 hours in length: the story takes place in Russia and the plot (an unauthorized adaptation of the Ayn Rand novel) naturally dealt with Communism; being a wartime production (if still handsomely mounted), it was deemed to be critical of the Fascist regime and subsequently banned! Only in 1986 was the film restored to its current form - and distributed in the U.S. to considerable success - but, unfortunately, the source print wasn't perfect (with the result that the video version suffers from some distracting fuzziness, particularly towards the end)...
Despite its epic scope, the film is decidedly talky and necessarily heavy-going in nature; but the acting (featuring perhaps romantic idol Rossano Brazzi's finest performance) is terrific and, as a whole, the narrative anticipates another troubled wartime epic - Marcel Carne''s masterpiece CHILDREN OF PARADISE (1945), particularly in the way Valli is pursued by a number of suitors throughout the film but ends up alone by the end of it.
The only other film by director Goffredo Alessandrini I've watched is ABUNA MESSIAS (1939), another historical piece but - ironically enough
a propagandist one! In the end, with all the celebrated classics that
have emerged from Italy along the years by any number of influential auteurs, WE THE LIVING remains - with good reason - an important film and, undeniably, one of the most impressive (if largely unsung) ever made in that country.
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