AFI Silver’s Signore and Signore: Leading Ladies of Italian Cinema
Claudia Cardinale in Girl With a Suitcase
The films series at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center started May 9, but I didn’t happen across it until this week. And, in all honesty, what really grabbed my attention was its inclusion of La ragazza con la valigia, director Valerio Zurlini’s 1961 picture about a teenaged boy infatuated with the woman his older brother recently dumped. She’s a nightclub showgirl cast aside, he’s the son of an affluent family who slowly realizes he can only do so much. This at times funny, at times exploration of class only came out on DVD in 2006 as part of a Zurlini box set (from No Shame Films, which specialized in Italian movies), and the titular castoff woman is Claudia Cardinale.
In other words, “Signore and Signore: Leading Ladies of Italian Cinema” is a series dedicated to one of the real reasons critics responded to Italian neo-realism, just as actresses such as Anna Karina, Juliet Greco, Jeanne Moreau, Anne Wiazemsky, et al were a key reason critics (then, as now, predominantly male) responded the new wave. Yes, Italian films of this era (represented in this series from the early 1940s to early ’70s) are gorgeously shot in black and white, explore a myriad of commoner storylines and political ideas, and are impressively shot on available locations, but they also include some of their loveliest—and most lovingly photographed—women of cinema. And so get ready for Silvana Mangano in Pier Paolo Pasolini’s sublime Teorema (May 19), Anna Magnani in Robert Rosselini’s Open City (May 23 and 23), Cardinale in Girl With a Suitcase (May 30 and 31), the great Michaelangelo Antonioni muse Monica Vitti in Drama of Jealousy (June 6 and 9), The Conformist‘s Stefanie Sandrelli in I Knew Her Well (June 27 and July 1), and others. Click here for the entire schedule.