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Le Notti Bianche (1957)

Le notti bianche (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, Romance | 28 May 1961 (USA)
A humble clerk courts a woman who night after night awaits for the return of her lover.

Director:

Luchino Visconti

Writers:

Fyodor Dostoevsky (novel) (as Fedor Dostoevskij), Suso Cecchi D'Amico (story and screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
7 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Maria Schell ... Natalia
Marcello Mastroianni ... Mario
Jean Marais ... L'inquilino
Marcella Rovena Marcella Rovena ... La padrona della pensione
Maria Zanoli Maria Zanoli ... La domestica (as Maria Zanolli)
Elena Fancera Elena Fancera ... La cassiera
Lanfranco Ceccarelli Lanfranco Ceccarelli ... Un coinvolto nella rissa (as Lanfranco Ceccarelli)
Angelo Galassi Angelo Galassi ... Un coinvolto nella rissa
Renato Terra Renato Terra ... Un coinvolto nella rissa
Corrado Pani ... Un giovinastro
Dirk Sanders Dirk Sanders ... Il ballerino (as Dick Sanders)
Clara Calamai ... La prostituta
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Storyline

A love triangle, the past invades the present. Mario, a shy man new in Livorno, chats up a crying woman on a bridge. She's Natalia, waiting for a lover gone for a year who promised to return. For three nights, Mario accompanies Natalia, assists her, distracts her, dances with her. He falls in love with her. Can he pull Natalia into his arms, away from the past and from love for a man who will probably never return? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Based on the story by Feodor Dostoyevsky

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Italy | France

Language:

Italian

Release Date:

28 May 1961 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Le Notti Bianche See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film is part of the Criterion Collection, spine #296. See more »

Quotes

Mario: I got a job. One year here, one year there - you meet a lot of people. You meet, you separate, and then you start all over. I used to think that was the secret to a happy life. Perhaps I'm getting older, but I don't like that anymore. I'd like to make some friends and keep them. Someone...
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Connections

Edited into My Sister Maria (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

Mulher Rendeira
Written by Lampião (Virgulino Ferreira), adapted by Zé do Norte
Appeared as soundtrack of Lima Barreto's Cannes Festival winner (1953); "O Cangaceiro", winning "special mention" for the score, in the same festival.
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User Reviews

 
about as moving a romantic drama can get; one of the best Dostoyevksy adaptations you'll likely see
22 April 2006 | by Quinoa1984See all my reviews

Fyodor Dostoyevsky is a writer I've gotten into heavily recently, and I couldn't be happier to have seen Luchino Visconti's adaptation of his short story (not yet read by me) as the first. The very essential, human search for happiness with a one true love, that those who may not have much money may at least find some kind of relief from the world in each other's company, is at the heart of Dostoyevksy's stories. And while often filled with sorrow, decay, and with enough melodrama to sink a ship, this spirit is then given catharsis when the good that comes in through the dark times it's something to really cling to. Visconti has his own style already taking on Dostoyevsky's work, and I wondered going into it if the director of another great adaptation, Ossessione, could pull it off. For me, it may even be better than that film; Le Notti Bianche gives us characters who are not overly complicated or with nefarious desires. If anything, these are the kinds of characters that I wish were in movies more often, flaws and all.

Marcello Mastroianni is also, for me, a really pleasant surprise seeing him in this film. Regrettably the only films I've seen him in are the early ones he made with Fellini, where his persona is cool, detached, and he could do his ultra suave &/or depressed and unchained characters effortlessly. With the character of Mario, Mastroianni is playing just an ordinary guy, with a low paying job and nothing special going for him in life. But if nothing else he is what most women in real life would look for in men, with compassion, sensitivity, but also sensible and with some of the minor flaws of being a nice guy. With the character of Natalia, Mario meets a woman whom he falls for hard, and wants to see again after a chance encounter. Maria Schnell is perfect against Mastroianni, as she has that kind of face and look in her eye (for lack of a better comparison) of any given American melodrama, only a bit more genuine. She's basically been waiting, as she tells, for a year for the man who will whisk her away from all of her troubles. But will he? Will Mario come through on a letter? What happens through the course of an unsure night?

Visconti poises these two against a backdrop completely staged, brilliantly in fact, and shot by the great Giussepe Rotunno with the kind of visual splendor that in its own way is on par with Visconti's the Leopard. It's not filmed in the real world, and the melodrama in the film is that of a very cinematic- or maybe theatrical- nature, but because it's an ultimately believable one the atmosphere gets heightened. Topped with Nino Rota's elegant score, many a wide shot shows Mario and Natalia on their walks along the streets, and then the close-ups work just as well. Best of all is a quasi ice breaker of Visconti's by doing a dance number in a bar, adding a sweet, if dated, levity that acts as the last mark before the story turns, and turns some more. What drew me in most about Le Notti Bianchi is how Visconti makes this a story of pure emotions, but one that is not at all sappy or trashy or whatever. Like with many of Dostoyevsky's characters, even through their misguided wants and feelings and the sense of anguish that may come to them (or not), we care about them. If ever a director, who started in neo-realistic roots, took a 180 and made it just as dramatically satisfying, it's here. One of the best films of 1957.


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