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White Nights

Adapting a Dostoyevsky short story set in 19th-century St. Petersburg to 1950s Liverno, Italy, Visconti’s theatrical film tale is of two drifting souls whose chance meeting leads to flirting romance and then reality. Marcello Mastroianni (in his first starring role), new to the city and lonely, and Maria Schell, haunted by an absent boyfriend’s (Jean Marais) promise, begin a tentative affair that soon entangles them in a web of longing and self-delusion. “Today the film’s dreamlike quality gives it a hypnotic force, echoed in the choice that a guileless Maria Schell must make between the sinister magnetism of her lover or the safer affections of the petit-bourgeois Mario, a character whose utter ordinariness Mastroianni endows with a nuanced comic power.”—UCLA Film Archive. 

Genres: Romance, Noir

Other Films by Luchino Visconti


One of Luchino Visconti’s (The Leopard, Death in Venice) little seen films—not in distribution in the US—Bellissima is a sly satire on the romantic illusions of the movie industry. Working class Maddalena (Oscar-winner Anna Magnani), a star-struck stage mother, is intent on finding fame and fortune for her rather ordinary daughter via a film career.

Rocco and His Brothers

VISITING ARTIST—A chronicle of family loyalty and disintegration, Visconti’s epic masterpiece is one of the most powerful and emotionally charged movies ever made. Rosaria Parondi and her five sons journey north to Milan to seek a better life, but the industrial north proves just as unforgiving as the desolation in Sicily. Simone (Renato Salvatori) becomes