(Pier Paolo Pasolini, Italy 1962, 110 min., 35mm, Italian w/subtitles)
Pasolini. If Anna Magnani’s unforgettable turn in Rossellini’s Rome, Open City made her an international star, her stunning performance in Pasolini’s controversial second feature confirmed her status as icon. Here, she plays a middle-aged prostitute determined to give her son the bourgeois life she never had, until a figure from the past returns to threaten her dreams. Astonishingly, Pasolini was disappointed with Magnani—he favored nonprofessionals who were authentically “subproletarian”—but no matter: her performance remains one of the greatest in postwar Italian cinema.