Saturday, January 31, 2015

355. Rocco e i suoi fratelli/Rocco and His Brothers (1960)

Running Time: 175 minutes
Directed By: Luchino Visconti
Written By: Luchino Visconti, Suso Cecchi d'Amico, Vasco Pratolini, Pasquale Festa Campanile, Massimo Franciosa, Enrico Medioli, from novel Il Ponte della Ghisolfa by Giovanni Testori
Main Cast: Alain Delon, Renato Salvatori, Annie Girardot, Katina Paxinou, Spiros Focas
Click here to view the trailer


The Godfather: Part III is in the mail, prompting me to make the decision to bring back the monthly recap post. I'm not sure if you guys were a fan of those or not, but this time around the monthly recap will be a little different. I'm tinkering with the format now, but I think I'll mainly be discussing non-BOOK movies, including some stills and maybe adding in a couple of TOP 10 lists from movies I've seen throughout the month. Stay tuned. Now then - Rocco and His Brothers...

"Rocco" was three hours long and didn't waste a minute of it's epic screen time, so I won't dilly dally, but forgive me if I gloss over some stuff. I'll try to hit the bullet points. The Parondi family (four brothers and their mother) travel from the countryside of Sicily to the bustling city of Milan to live with the fifth brother, Vincenzo (Focas), whom they burst in on during his engagement party. An argument ensues between Rosaria (Parondi matriarch) and the mother of Vincenzo's bride. Vincenzo, raised to stick up for his family, takes his mom's side and promptly leaves with her and his four brothers. The six of them end up getting a little shack of an apartment, where they're basically sleeping on top of each other, without two nickels to rub together. A particularly favorite scene of mine shows the five brothers awaking early, so that they can go out and shovel snow to make a few bucks. The movie is split into five parts, with each part focusing on one of the brothers. However, no part deals exclusively with one brother i.e. Simone (Salvatori) is just as much a part of the Vincenzo segment, as Vincenzo is. Anyway, Simone ends up becoming a boxer and is lured to the dark side after experiencing sex, money and fame. He begins shacking up with a hooker, Nadia (Girardot), who later dumps him. Nadia reappears later, running into Rocco (Delon) on the street and the two strike up a chat. One thing leads to another and the two are in love, except Simone knows nothing about it...for now. Meanwhile, Vincenzo patches things up with his former fiance (Claudia Cardinale), Mama Parondi worries about all of her sons, Rocco joins the service and Ciro (brother #4) gets a girlfriend too.


I'm home sick from work today, so pardon me if this sucks, as I've been in bed since yesterday morning and am feeling a little woozy just sitting in my computer chair. Anyway, I'll give it the old college try and hope for the best. I went into this not expecting to like it. I think I had good reason for that expectation, as we all remember the tragedy that was The Leopard - probably my least favorite movie of all last season. However, since about twenty five percent of the movies I have left are over two hours (most closer to three) I figured I'd better start knocking out the epics early and so I started with this one. However, I couldn't have been more wrong, as I actually ended up loving this and would probably go so far as to say it's the best thing I've seen all month, right up there with Alien and The Godfather (the original, not that tripe sequel). I know I say this a lot, but seriously, what's not to like? Okay, maybe you don't dig black & white and maybe foreign films aren't your bag, but any good, self respecting film buff is gonna' have a field day with this one, analyzing the characters, mulling over the plot and just basking in the film's greatness.

So what brother are you? I think if could be any of the five brothers, I'd compare myself to Vincenzo. He kind of lays low, keeps laid back, doesn't even have that much of a meltdown when the gorgeous Claudia Cardinale kicks him to the curb, early on. He's a family man, slowly weening his way away from his birth family and starting a new beginning with his wife and kids. However, he hasn't forgotten anyone and when Rocco knocks on the door in the middle of the night, bloodied and beaten, he embraces him, holds him on his feet and helps him. Not that I didn't love Rocco, but wasn't the guy just a little too forgiving? Like forgiving to an unbelievable level? "Hey, I know my brother raped you and I know we're in love, but I think you should go back to him because, darn it, he's just so unhappy without you. Shucks!" It was a bit much to swallow, but you got the sense that this is just how he was raised, to always protect the family and never let an outsider intrude. In fact, the tale of Rocco is probably the tale of that one time he almost let an intruder come between him and his family and even when he let Nadia go, he still pined for her, she was still, even while gone, coming between him and his family, he just didn't know it. The scene where Simone rapes Nadia is probably one of the most uncomfortable, hardest scenes I've ever had to sit through, right up there with Noodles' rape on Deborah in Once Upon a Time in America. Another really tough, "pour your freakin' heart out" scene was when Rocco learns that Simone has killed Nadia. WOW! That's it, just WOW! Delon proves he's in a master class, among the finest actors gracing the pages of THE BOOK. I've rarely seen such heartache committed to celluloid. Perhaps the only time I have seen such heartbreak is that scene in Scenes from a Marriage when Erland Josephson tells Liv Ullmann that he wants a divorce and you can almost literally see her heart tearing in half on camera, but I digress...

If there was ever an actress for Claudia Cardinale to play second fiddle to, it was Annie Girardot. Perhaps one of the sexiest performances in all of cinema. She completely nails it when she sashay's into the Parondi apartment, kicks out her foot and adjusts her stockings. She has them all hooked and this is where Simone starts to go rotten. While I'm on the subject of Simone - we've got Delon as the most heartbreaking, Girardot as the most sexy - how about naming Simone one of the most hated characters I've encountered. Then again, I also feel sorry for him. His fame is gone, his girl is gone, he had a taste of the big life in the big city and he blew it. On the other hand, he leads to the downfall of Rocco, inadvertently forcing Rocco to give up his love, his money and his happiness. Such a lot to mull over. Anyway, the film is great, a big hit with yours truly. I fully expected there to be more symbolism that I got tangled in, but if there was symbolism, it was lost on me and probably for the better. Consider Visconti 1-1, with his next movie being the rubber film in my decision on whether I like his work or not.

RATING: 9/10  Can't go whole hog, just because, but easily the best thing I've seen all month and one that I'd definitely like to revisit someday.


January 31, 2015  11:41am


  1. Oh wow.. great for you hitting a top film at last.. I know you'd rather been despairing of something to knock your socks off for some time...
    Perhaps i was in a bad mood, or a bit impatient the day I watched this.. iy SHOULD have hit the right buttons for me.. hey, it's old, B&W, foreign language and miserable.. what's not to love??
    But I'm afraid I found it dragged, and I just got bored by the (seeming) cliche of poor Sicilians moving to the poverty of the big city and spending three hours wailing, screaming and shouting - and swearing to kill- at each other, then immediately bursting into tears about how much they really love each other.
    "My son, why you-a-breaka your mamma's heart so much?"
    "Oh mamma. It's this place that do it, not me..why we ever leave the old place, we were poor but we had each other"
    And a bit like Apu.. you just sit there waiting the ticks.. -he will get knifed .. he will get drawn into a crime gang - she will end up pregnant by a good-for-nothing.. etc etc.
    But I read your post and realise I almost certainly missed a lot from this one...

    1. I really expected an agree-fest here, but that's okay. You all but admit a rewatch is imminent, so maybe it'll do better by you next time.

  2. You'd have thought so wouldn't you?
    But don't you find that sometimes a film you expect to please you just doesn't.. despite all evidence to the contrary.

    1. Yes, I do find that. However, occasionally, I'll get a positive hunch about a movie and just KNOW I'm gonna like it and I do. Although, I have more cases like you mentioned, where anticipation leads to disappointment.

  3. I love the themes in this movie! I talked about it in my

    blog: Shamitabh Full Movie
    I especially like the idea of partner manipulation that

    is brought up in the

    movie...very interesting stuff.

    1. It is very interesting! Thanks for stopping by!


SINS OF OMISSION - Entry #66: La piscine/The Swimming Pool (1969)

Running Time: 120 minutes Directed By: Jacques Deray Written By: Jean-Claude Carriere, Jacques Deray, Alain Page Main Cast: Alain Del...