Mario Bolognini, a specialist in prestigious literary adaptations, tackles Gaetano Carlo Chelli’s most important novel. Chelli, a late 19th century verismo writer, was one of the first authors to explore Rome during the reign of King Umberto I, doing so in a vivid and passionate way. The film boasts an impeccable historical reconstruction, wittily depicting a world where the shiny veneer of opulence is corroded by a blind thirst for money, the cruelty of intrigue and the force of irresistible passion. The photography of Ennio Guarnieri was strongly influenced by painting, giving us a fantastic portrayal of the historical period. The score by Ennio Morricone is a perfect companion to the unhealthy beauty that permeates the film. The cast is so full of stars, it’s hard to tell who shines the brightest; however, Dominque Sanda deserves a special mention as an irresistibly charming Machiavellian demoness.
Rome in the late 19th century. Gregorio Ferramonti started out with nothing and has built up a fortune buying and selling land. He has three sons, Pippo, Teta and Mario. They have had a privileged upbringing, but have strikingly different personalitites. Over the years, Gregorio comes to despise his sons and eventually decides to cut them off financially. Irene, Pippo’s cunning wife, is determined to hold on to her husband’s inheritance.