Rocco and His Brothers, 1960


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Today is the start of my annual two-week holiday visit with great film. Having spent much of my youth in the Museum of Modern Art's basement screening theater with my movie-loving artist father, watching old films with him late at night, and having taken a couple of screenwriting classes, film is another one of my passions. Think of this two-week period as cinematic jazz or music to the eyes. What both jazz and great cinema have in common is poetry.

The first film this week is Rocco and His Brothers. Directed by Luchino Visconti (above), one of the great Italian neo-realists, it's the story of a family that migrates from the south of Italy to Milan in the north and how the city's values change Rocco's family and why southern Italy's way of life and values still have a strong hold over them. Visconti would go on to direct The Leopard (1963) and Death in Venice (1971).

Rocco and His Brothers stars Alain Delon, Renato Salvatori, Annie Girardot and Claudia Cardinale (above), with music by Nino Rota (Fellini's , Juliet of the Spirits and The Godfather Part II). Martin Scorsese clearly was influenced by the film's boxing sequences for Raging Bull.

A trick for reading English subtitles. If the line is long, read the first half, look up at the screen and then read the rest. You'll get used to it.

Here's Rocco and His Brothers...

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This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
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