Title   Cast   Director   Year Shown  Other Info    Country  Notes 

Italy, 1951, 113 min

Shown in 1995


Luchino Visconti
Salvo d’ Angelo
Suso Cecchi d’Amico, Francesco Rosi, Luchino Visconti
Anna Magnani, Alessandro Blasetti, Walter Chiari, Tina Apicella


Shown as part of a tribute to Suso Cecchi d’Amico, who appeared in person.

On a casting call for a child actress, so the legend goes, director Luchino Visconti was besieged by stage mothers, each trying to attract his attention with shouts of "Bellissima"! (Mine is the most beautiful!). He turned this unnerving experience into art with Bellissima, a sly, satiric look at the motivations and machinations behind the scenes at Cinecittà. It’s a film about filmmaking shot with both warmth and wit. Anna Magnani (in one of her firecracker performances) plays Maddalena, a screenstruck mother with a less-than-bellissima five-year-old daughter (ugly duckling Tina Apicella). But after an emotionally devastating moment in which she overhears the mocking laughter that greets her daughter’s screen test, Maddalena turns her back on this world of illusions. Its brittle glamor is more corrosive than the hard-scrabble tenement life and working-class marriage she had dreamed of escaping. Standing in for Visconti in this satire with a social subtext is Alessandro Blasetti, himself a respected neorealist director. Shot in an unusually—for Visconti—realistic and spare style, Bellissima has a wry, tolerant approach to the foibles of filmmaking, but a real sense of where the heart belongs.