Anna Magnani's legacy honored at Castro and BAMPFA

By Moira Sullivan

The late Italian actress ANNA MAGNANI will be honored at the Castro Theatre on Sept 24 and at the BAMPFA from September 25 to December 4 in Berkeley. The program is sponsored by Luce Cinecittà, the Italian Cultural Institute and Cinema Italia San Francisco.

Magnani was born in Rome in1908 and worked with the great Italian art house directors such as Roberto Rossellini, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Federico Fellini and Luchino Visconti. She also worked with Jean Cocteau and even won the admiration of Tennessee Williams who created for her on screen a role in The Rose Tattoo opposite Burt Lancaster, where she won the best actress award in 1955 at the Academy Awards. Her breakthrough role that brought her to international attention was in Roberto Rossellini’s Rome Open City that made her a star in Italy and abroad.

Magnani died in 1973 at the age of 65 in Rome after a long battle with cancer and her public funeral brought all of Italy out to mourn in the streets of her beloved city

Four films will be screened at the Castro for Anna Magnani – A Film Series Program. Each reveal the bravado of Anna Magnani and celebrate her diversity.

1:00 PM: Rome Open City (100 mins. – 1945) directed by Roberto Rossellini
In this film Anna plays the fiancé of a member of the Italian resistance against Hitler opposite a priest, Aldo Fabrizi, who is working to help his people during this difficult time. It was a film that is one of the first associated with Italian neorealism that was known for showing the realistic conditions of the time with non-actors, inexpensive sets, costumes and makeup, and stories set in the here and now, in this case the last year of the war. Anna Magnani was praised for her role and was sought after by Italian and international directors ever since. Her performance won her Best Foreign Actress of the year by the National Board of Review and Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival.

3:00 PM: Bellissima (115 mins. – 1952) where Anna plays Maddalena a working class mother who drags her daughter off to an audition at the Cinecittà studios like countless other mothers. It reveals the chaos in Italy after the war and the desperation that people had to get ahead or just to get by. With each person Maddelena meets, she follows his or her advice to improve her daughter’s appearance and performance for her role in an upcoming film. The script by Suso Cecchi d’Amico, and Francesco Rossi makes it an unforgettable film. Directed by Luchino Visconti

6:00 PM: The Rose Tattoo (117 mins. – 1955) by Tennessee Williams, Anna Magnani plays Serafina an Italian living in America, the widowed mother of a teenage daughter. Her husband had been transporting bootlegged alcohol in his fruit truck and is chased by the police. This results in a fatal accident. Anna took great pride in her husband particularly his build and virility. Everything is done for him by her but his shady business and love affair on the side catch up with both. Burt Lancaster, plays an Italian-American whose sister sets him up to meet the widow Serafina. He is not credible as an Italian-American. He is certainly not the marvel that Serafina's husband was and is a clown that is extremely irritating in his role. But Magnani eclipses him so that it doesn’t matter.

8:00 PM: A party will be held Castro Theatre’s mezzanine to celebrate Magnani prior to the final screening of the day.

10:00 PM: The Passionate Thief (106 mins. – 1960) directed by Mario Monicelli is co- written and adapted by Suso Cecchi D’Amico from novels by Alberto Moravia. The film unites two famous Italian actors Magnani and Italian comic Totó, playing two actors who get bit parts at Cinecittà after their career has wound down. They wind up spending NewYear's together  trying to find a great party to attend. Totó runs into a colleague, a petty criminal played by the young Ben Gazarra, and agrees to cater at a huge dance hall and help pick pockets. Later by chance, they crash a party after inadvertently being hit by cork that hails from a party hosted by a wealthy German. The antics of the film make it one of the best comedies, especially with Magnani and Totó working together as a great duo.
© 2016 - Moira Sullivan- Air Date: 09/21/16
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