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Beautiful (1951)

Bellissima (original title)
Not Rated | | Comedy, Drama | October 1953 (UK)
A woman from the low class desperately tries to get her daughter into the movies.


Luchino Visconti


Cesare Zavattini (story), Suso Cecchi D'Amico (screenplay) | 2 more credits »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Anna Magnani ... Maddalena Cecconi
Walter Chiari ... Alberto Annovazzi
Tina Apicella Tina Apicella ... Maria Cecconi
Gastone Renzelli Gastone Renzelli ... Spartaco Cecconi
Tecla Scarano Tecla Scarano ... Tilde Spernanzoni
Lola Braccini Lola Braccini ... Photographer's Wife
Arturo Bragaglia Arturo Bragaglia ... Photographer
Nora Ricci ... Laundry Worker
Vittorina Benvenuti Vittorina Benvenuti
Linda Sini Linda Sini ... Mimmetta
Teresa Battaggi Teresa Battaggi ... Snob Mother
Gisella Monaldi Gisella Monaldi ... Door-keeper
Amalia Pellegrini Amalia Pellegrini
Luciana Ricci Luciana Ricci
Giuseppina Arena Giuseppina Arena


Film director Blasetti is looking for a little girl for his new movie. Along with other mothers, Maddelena takes her daugther to Cinecittà, hoping she'll be selected and become a star. She is ready to sacrifice anything for little Maria, even if her husband would prefer they save their little money for the rent, instead of paying teachers, hairdressers or bribes for her illusions. Written by Yepok

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


...this was the moment of a woman's secret triumph! See more »


Comedy | Drama


Not Rated | See all certifications »






Release Date:

October 1953 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Bellísima See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Film Bellissima See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The poem Maria recites is "Addio a Venezia" (1849) by Arnaldo Fusinato. See more »


Referenced in Visconti (1967) See more »


Il valzer dello zigo zago
Written by C. Deani and Dino Olivieri
Performed by Anna Magnani
See more »

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User Reviews

The human desire to overcome poverty, even if we stimulate exploitation even more.
26 June 2017 | by guedesninoSee all my reviews

"Bellissima" is structured in a circular and ephemeral plot. Their conflict, which becomes stronger as a situation, is mimesis of reality, of stories so close and common but diversified. In short: the human desire to overcome poverty, even if we stimulate exploitation even more.

The timeless character of this film made in 1951 by Luchino Visconti, is already clear in its synopsis: The story of Maddalena (a nurse), who inscribes his daughter Maria, in a contest that aims to elect the most beautiful girl in Italy. The contest represents a ticket to give the daughter a life that oscillates between dignity and luxury, being that mother-protagonist, ready to everything to guarantee the victory of the daughter.

In a large part of this story that sometimes takes situations and absurd moments, facing a desire that borders the limitations of vision, rationality and absurdity when showing the starting points, play and finalize this saga. That is drawn by a mother motivated by the future of her daughter, this dramatic dimension that is characteristic to the film, if diluted wisely in moments of comedy. Maddalena's attitudes are laughable, all the more so as in the lack of artistic talent of her daughter. This laughs at the other, the role of a fool that plays this mother not to notice in the daughter who lacks other attributes, and the belief that the beauty of the girl, added to the interference of this mother, as in trying to buy the jurors or get someone inside the Production of the film that highlights the test of Maria, that this sum can interfere in the result and consecrate in the victory of Maddalena through the small daughter.

With all the merits of a timeless story, and without regret the fact that the director had in hand a material very close to the neo-realist films that consecrated him, that is, to have something very close to the style that was customary to do, but that is Rejected in "Bellissima", approaching this story through the realistic bias, in which, personally, I consider that it was desirous to the producers of the film and to the director to present a more comprehensive aspect of the fable, considering the common character of this story, that happens and repeats itself In life, and which is now reflected on canvas, but which, in abandoning a reflection of this realism pertaining to a certain social reality, generates a filmic approach that equates maternal desires, however, disproportionate and invalid in face of class differences and consequently incapable of generating Changes, or results, how can you compete with a family that already has a wide advantage? This inequality of classes is mentioned and treated very superficially in the small plots in which they are presented, this minimizes the strength and potentiality of Visconti and Bellissima, since the approach in which it is presented (its form), makes it impossible for itself speech. The struggle to overcome class differences, through methods that reinforce and contribute to these differences. In truth, the mother does not struggle to overcome anything, she wants only to belong to something, and in the end, when she perceives this world of cruel differences that she admired and in which she ended up collaborating, it becomes, then, the moment of rationality and revolt of Maddalena. In portraying cinema as a microcosm of a prosperous world in advantageous possibilities, Visconti satirizes the film industry itself and human innocence in the face of its belief in possibility and belonging. This belief that induces the ability to use mechanisms, but is already dominated by commercial interests, which among others, result in the strengthening of class differences and simulate a fantasy world, such as the cinema and its benefits.

The entire film is anchored by the magnetic and fascinating performance of Anna Magnani, who fills the entire screen with a fiery vitality and intensity that is almost impossible to look away. In 1951, she was one of the queens of Italian cinema and was already echoing all over the world. Anna was the favorite actress of Bette Davis, and Bette considered Anna's performance in "Bellissima" as: brilliant, uninhibited and full of immense power. There is hardly a moment in the movie where it is still or silent. Visconti, almost exclusively, records Anna in medium and full planes, giving her ample room for compositions and promoting seams from one end of the frame to the other.

Between several scenes of fade-in and fade-out that stitch together the film, between jumps of episodic events that collaborate for the construction and the outcome of the plot, it calls the photographic proposal of Piero Portalupi and Paul Ronald, who basically establish a climate of life Obscure in the apartment of Maddalena, in contrast, the reflectors and dazzle of lights of the "Cinecittà", a directing of light that directs not only the convicted desire of Maddalena, but with only enlightened path that offers a perspective, a way out that life between Shadows Another great moment of mastery of this photograph is in the game between half light that illuminates faces or that highlight one among many others, a clear allusion to the pursuit of brilliance and own light that dialogue and much for the construction of "Beautiful".

Although not the most interesting film of Visconti, and leaving aside many of the brands that have consecrated it, "Bellissima" is an interesting work and that dialogues with the contemporary world, and possibly dialogues with the future world, since between the social differences Which we both struggle to overcome, are often unconsciously reinforced through a selfish struggle that seeks only to save some and not realize that it will only result when we understand the need for a whole. Luchino Visconti was able to write for our eyes, an important social and cultural document that reflects on yesterday, analyzes the present and provides paths for tomorrow.

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