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Neil Rosen’s Film List – Rome

From sword and sandal to 5 times Prime Ministers Neil Rosen picks his favourite movies set in Rome

To maintain my capital theme here is my Rome list. Rome is an important and creative force in the cinema with location, some great Italian directors and actors, though probably less so at the moment.

Bicycle Thieves 1948
De Sica’s first film set in the poverty of post war Rome, with a memorable performance from Bruno, whose father’s living sticking poster is lost by the theft of his bicycle.

Rome, Open  City 1945
Roberto Rossellini and Anna Magnani provide a similar evocative portrayal of Rome. Rossellini had so few resources that he often filmed with a basic movie camera but still produced one of the best cinematic depictions of the Eternal City.

Dolce Vita 1960 Fellini
Fellin’s film features the Rolling Stones and a fine European cast of Marcello Mastroanni, Anouk Aimee and a busty Anita Ekberg in the fountain. Recently the theme of Roman decadence was explored in Sorrentino ‘s Great Beauty.

Roman Holiday 1953 William Wyler
A touch sentimental, but the film that launched Audrey Hepburn as a princess in a romance with the ethical pressman Gregory Peck.

Divo 2005
Sorrentino’s biopic of Andreotti is filmed in Rome and captures the Roman Catholicism of the 5 time Prime Minister.

Three Coins in a  Fountain 1953 Jean Negulesco
Another comedy that is set round one of Rome’s landmarks starring Jean Peters, Rossano Brazzi and Louis Jourdan.

Boccaccio 70 1962 Vittorio de Sica, Fellini
Directors tell 4 stories redolent of the Decameron . Strong female cast of Sophia Loren, Anita Ekberg and Romy Schneider.

Quo Vadis 1951 Anthony Mann
A detailed account of the Roman Empire with the familiar theme of the returning general stars Robert Taylor and Deborah Kerr.

Spartacus 1960 Stanley Kubrick
Overly long but one of the best sword and sandals. One of the features of the film that surprised me was its homoeroticism. Lawrence Olivier has a body servant whilst Kirk Douglas’ temple of a body is oiled up and glistening.

Gladiator 2000 Ridley Scott
A modern day sword and sandal with Russell Crowe in compelling form. After even, by his high standards, a massive drinking session Oliver Reed died and it cost Ridley Scott £3m to recreate his face.

About Neil Rosen

Neil went to the City of London School and Manchester University graduating with a 1st in economics. After a brief stint in accountancy, Neil emigrated to a kibbutz In Israel. His articles on the burgeoning Israeli film industry earned comparisons to Truffaut and Godard in Cahiers du Cinema. Now one of the world's leading film critics and moderators at film Festivals Neil has written definitively in his book Kosher Nostra on Jewish post war actors. Neil lives with his family in North London. More Posts

2 Comments on Neil Rosen’s Film List – Rome

  1. While no film expert like your esteemed critic, I was somewhat surprised that he failed to mention one of the greatest film heists that was partly made in Roma, with minis going down steps and into the sewers of the R. Tiber. Or pehaps he does not think that the original production of the Italan Job, with that “professional” cockney from sarf London, is worthy of a mention.

    I think we should be told.

    • The National Rust // December 23, 2013 at 3:44 pm //

      Michael, thank you for your comment. However I am fairly certain that this wonderful movie that featured in my heist list was set in Turin. Clearly not many people know that.

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