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Le Notti Bianche (1957)

Le notti bianche (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, Romance | 28 May 1961 (USA)
A humble clerk courts a woman who night after night awaits for the return of her lover.

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Writers:

(novel) (as Fedor Dostoevskij), (story and screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
Marcella Rovena ...
Maria Zanoli ...
La domestica (as Maria Zanolli)
Elena Fancera ...
La cassiera
Lanfranco Ceccarelli ...
Un coinvolto nella rissa (as Lanfranco Ceccarelli)
Angelo Galassi ...
Un coinvolto nella rissa
Renato Terra ...
Un coinvolto nella rissa
Corrado Pani ...
Un giovinastro
Dirk Sanders ...
Il ballerino (as Dick Sanders)
...
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Storyline

A love triangle, the past invades the present. Mario, a shy man new in Livorno, chats up a crying woman on a bridge. She's Natalia, waiting for a lover gone for a year who promised to return. For three nights, Mario accompanies Natalia, assists her, distracts her, dances with her. He falls in love with her. Can he pull Natalia into his arms, away from the past and from love for a man who will probably never return? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Based on the story by Feodor Dostoyevsky

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

28 May 1961 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Le Notti Bianche  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Austrian actress Maria Schell learnt the script in Italian and spoke all her lines in Italian during the shooting, which won her the admiration of the Italian cast and crew. It was subsequently decided not to dub her voice by an Italian actress, which was the usual practice at the time. See more »

Quotes

Mario: I'm sorry. I'm terribly shy. With girls, I mean. I'm not used to - I never know how to talk to them. The women I know...
Natalia: Women like shy men. And so do I.
Mario: Really? But, don't tell me that or you'll make me lose my shyness.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Les enfants jouent à la Russie (1993) See more »

Soundtracks

Mulher Rendeira
Written by Lampião (Virgulino Ferreira), adapted by Zé do Norte
Appeared as soundtrack of Lima Barreto's Cannes Festival winner (1953); "O Cangaceiro", winning "special mention" for the score, in the same festival.
See more »

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User Reviews

 
about as moving a romantic drama can get; one of the best Dostoyevksy adaptations you'll likely see
22 April 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Fyodor Dostoyevsky is a writer I've gotten into heavily recently, and I couldn't be happier to have seen Luchino Visconti's adaptation of his short story (not yet read by me) as the first. The very essential, human search for happiness with a one true love, that those who may not have much money may at least find some kind of relief from the world in each other's company, is at the heart of Dostoyevksy's stories. And while often filled with sorrow, decay, and with enough melodrama to sink a ship, this spirit is then given catharsis when the good that comes in through the dark times it's something to really cling to. Visconti has his own style already taking on Dostoyevsky's work, and I wondered going into it if the director of another great adaptation, Ossessione, could pull it off. For me, it may even be better than that film; Le Notti Bianche gives us characters who are not overly complicated or with nefarious desires. If anything, these are the kinds of characters that I wish were in movies more often, flaws and all.

Marcello Mastroianni is also, for me, a really pleasant surprise seeing him in this film. Regrettably the only films I've seen him in are the early ones he made with Fellini, where his persona is cool, detached, and he could do his ultra suave &/or depressed and unchained characters effortlessly. With the character of Mario, Mastroianni is playing just an ordinary guy, with a low paying job and nothing special going for him in life. But if nothing else he is what most women in real life would look for in men, with compassion, sensitivity, but also sensible and with some of the minor flaws of being a nice guy. With the character of Natalia, Mario meets a woman whom he falls for hard, and wants to see again after a chance encounter. Maria Schnell is perfect against Mastroianni, as she has that kind of face and look in her eye (for lack of a better comparison) of any given American melodrama, only a bit more genuine. She's basically been waiting, as she tells, for a year for the man who will whisk her away from all of her troubles. But will he? Will Mario come through on a letter? What happens through the course of an unsure night?

Visconti poises these two against a backdrop completely staged, brilliantly in fact, and shot by the great Giussepe Rotunno with the kind of visual splendor that in its own way is on par with Visconti's the Leopard. It's not filmed in the real world, and the melodrama in the film is that of a very cinematic- or maybe theatrical- nature, but because it's an ultimately believable one the atmosphere gets heightened. Topped with Nino Rota's elegant score, many a wide shot shows Mario and Natalia on their walks along the streets, and then the close-ups work just as well. Best of all is a quasi ice breaker of Visconti's by doing a dance number in a bar, adding a sweet, if dated, levity that acts as the last mark before the story turns, and turns some more. What drew me in most about Le Notti Bianchi is how Visconti makes this a story of pure emotions, but one that is not at all sappy or trashy or whatever. Like with many of Dostoyevsky's characters, even through their misguided wants and feelings and the sense of anguish that may come to them (or not), we care about them. If ever a director, who started in neo-realistic roots, took a 180 and made it just as dramatically satisfying, it's here. One of the best films of 1957.


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