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Directed by Luchino Visconti

Italy 1957 97 mins. In Italian

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