A superb Anna Magnani stars as Maddalena: showbiz mother, vulgarian and representative of the post-war petite bourgeoisie. Yet what begins as a prophetic excoriation of the then-nascent cult of celebrity transforms into a deeply sympathetic treatise on ageing, failure and legacy, Visconti amply demonstrating his understanding of “the charged theatricality of ordinary life” (Fernando F. Croce). With Walter Chiari.
Presented by the Melbourne Cinémathèque & ACMI
A rare early comedy from the great Marxist aesthete of Italian cinema becomes, in Visconti’s hands, his first great infiltration of operatic swoop into neo-realist detail. This push-pull dialectic was eventually abandoned toward the latter half of his career.