aka GRUPPO DI FAMIGLIA IN UN INTERNO
(Italy/France - 1974)
Directed by Luchino Visconti. Written by Suso Cecchi d'Amico, Enrico Medioli, Luchino Visconti. Cast: Burt Lancaster, Helmut Berger, Silvana Mangano, Romolo Valli, Dominique Sanda, Claudia Cardinale, Claudia Marsani, Stefano Patrizi, Elvira Cortese, Guy Trejan, Umberto Raho, Enzo Fiermonte. (Unrated, 121 mins)
The penultimate film by legendary Italian director Luchino Visconti (1906-1976) has been derided as one of his worst and most pretentious works for nearly 40 years. It was shot in English, with much of the Italian supporting cast dubbed, and despite acclaim in Italy, film festival screenings abroad resulted in such bad word-of-mouth that it took three years to find a US distributor. When then-fledgling New Line Cinema released it in the US in 1977, a year after Visconti's death (his final film, 1976's THE INNOCENT, wasn't released in the US until 1979), they released a version dubbed in Italian with English subtitles, which most agreed played a little better. Raro USA's new DVD release only has the original English-language audio, and that was the way Visconti intended it to be shown (Raro's Blu-ray, due out in April, will have both audio options). CONVERSATION PIECE has remained relatively obscure in comparison to Visconti classics like THE LEOPARD (1963), but its reputation has improved since its original release, and the essay in the package's accompanying booklet by film historian Mark Rappaport makes a pretty strong case for it being considered essential Visconti.
|1974 Italian poster|
|Poster for the film's 1977 US release|
|Deciding three's already a crowd, the Professor (Burt|
Lancaster) declines an invitation from the
free-spirited Lietta (Claudia Marsani,
who's probably doubled in this shot)
|Burt Lancaster and Helmut Berger|
|Somewhat misleading artwork for the film's |
1980s VHS release in the US.