Rocco and His Brothers (1960)

Directed by Luchino Visconti

When a impoverished widow’s family moves to the big city, two of her five sons become romantic rivals with deadly results.

Explicitly named as an inspiration for The Godfather (1972) and a likely influence in Mean Streets (1973), Rocco and his Brothers is perhaps best seen as an Italian film about intra-Italian immigrant rather than the specific inflections of Italian-American immigration. Indeed, one feels something more akin to the hot-headed Carracci brothers from Elana Ferrante's Neopolitan Quartet than anything else, especially in the rape scene by the railway track — probably the hardest scene to watch containing sexual violence since Gaspar Noé's Irréversible (2003). But this is a very good (and often beautiful) film that unfortunately eludes greatness for me in its use of some of the hoarier Italian stereotypes, particularly the use of a puttana as a narrative device to reliably generate conflict, and, of course, the operatic/histrionic gesticulating Italian mama...