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Down the Ancient Stairs (1975)

Per le antiche scale (original title)
A mental hospital somewhere in Tuscany during the thirties. Far away from fascism, this closed world is rules over by Dr. Bonaccorsi, a passionate benevolent psychiatrist whose dream is to ... See full summary »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Professor Bonaccorsi
Anna Bersani
Pierre Blaise ...
Maria Teresa Albani
Maria Michi
Paolo Pacino
Silvano Tranquilli ...
Professor Rospigliosi
Charles Fawcett ...
Doctor Sfameni
Ferruccio De Ceresa ...
Fascist Official in train
Paola Corazzi


A mental hospital somewhere in Tuscany during the thirties. Far away from fascism, this closed world is rules over by Dr. Bonaccorsi, a passionate benevolent psychiatrist whose dream is to isolate the germ of madness. He is also a very active ladies'man and makes three women benefit from his sexual itch: Francesca the hospital manager's wife, Bianca, his devoted nurse and Carla, a nymphomaniac doctor's wife. His well-ordered universe starts being challenged with the coming of Anna, a trainee psychiatrist, who disapproves of his theory on the origin of madness. Worse, she resists his advances. As Bonaccorsi is more insecure than he looks, what will become of him? Written by Guy Bellinger

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The sensual. The tortured. The obsessed. He is their ruler.




R | See all certifications »





Release Date:

28 November 1975 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

Down the Ancient Staircase  »

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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User Reviews

4 August 2001 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

DOWN THE ANCIENT STAIRS has Marcello Mastroianni playing the head doctor in an insane asylum of fascist Italy of the thirties. Director Bolognini probably intended the hospital to represent a microcosm of the Italy of the times. The doctor is working on the theory that schizophrenia is caused by a physical virus that can be isolated and treated. This controversial film examines the repressive mechanisms common to fascism and institutional psychiatry. The doctor is loved by three women and has simultaneous affairs with a nurse, a nymphomaniac, and the hospital director's wife. Although somewhat sensationalized, this film was made by a director of some renown, Mauro Bolognini, who gave us gems like BELL'ANTONIO (also with Mastroianni), LA GRANDE BOURGEOISE, METELLO, AGOSTINO, and LA VIACCIA.

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