Movies about Rome

Saturday, May 14, 2011 at 6:19 am

Films Set in Italy

Besides being the capital of Italy, Rome is a city known for romance. With a history stretching back over 2,500 years, it has served as the seat of power for the formidable Roman Empire, as well as housing the city-state that contains the central authority of the Catholic Church (Vatican City). The following movies about Rome capture much of the majesty and history of the city, and they range from bizarre comedies to grim meditations on the hardships of life.

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Three Coins in the Fountain (1954) – While working for the American embassy in Rome, three American girls (Dorothy McGuire, Jean Peters, Maggie McNamara) search for love. Based on the novel Coins in the Fountain, the film’s soundtrack would also become a classic.

Gladiator (2000) – Russell Crowe shot to stardom as a general for the Roman army who’s betrayed, sold into slavery, and forced to fight as a gladiator. Seeking revenge for the murder of his family, he bides his time and struggles to survive all the perils awaiting him in the Colosseum. Joaquin Phoenix co-stars as the mad Emperor Commodus, and this Ridley Scott film would be nominated for 12 Oscars (including wins for Best Picture and Best Actor).

The Bicycle Thief

The Bicycle Thief (1948) – Also known as Bicycle Thieves, this Vittorio De Sica film routinely ranks near the top of the prestigious Sight & Sound list of the best movies ever made (and one of the most soul-crushing). A poor man in Rome needs a bicycle in order to work and feed his family, but a thief steals it and forces a desperate search through the streets of the city.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1966) – Based on the musical, this farce stars Zero Mostel (reprising his stage role) as a slave during the reign of Emperor Nero who’s trying to gain his freedom by helping his master to win the affections of a neighbor. Co-starring Phil Silvers, Buster Keaton, Michael Crawford, and Annette Andre.

La Dolce Vita (1960) – One of the greatest and most thought-provoking films ever made, La Dolce Vita is Federico Fellini’s masterpiece about a womanizing journalist (Marcello Mastroianni) who spends a week in Rome and tries to find love and happiness. The scene of sexy Anita Ekberg wading in the Trevi Fountain remains an enduring cinematic image.

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Julius Caesar (1953) – The famed Shakespeare play is brought to the screen courtesy of Marlon Brando (Mark Antony), James Mason (Brutus), Louis Calhern (Julius Caesar), John Gielgud (Cassius), and Greer Garson (Calpurnia). Nominated for five Academy Awards.

EuroTrip (2004) – When he realizes that his longtime penpal from overseas is actually a girl, an American teen heads to Europe in a quest to find her and profess his love. While part of the film is set in Rome, this quirky comedy also makes stop in London, Amsterdam, and the dreaded climes of Eastern Europe. Watch for Matt Damon in a cameo as the lead singer for the band performing “Scotty Doesn’t Know.”

Roman Holiday (1953) – Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn star in this romantic tale about a princess who sneaks away from her entourage to experience Rome by herself. There, she meets and falls for an American reporter. Hepburn won the Oscar for Best Actress for her role.

A Cat in the Brain (1990) – Largely made up of footage from his previous films, this Lucio Fulci Italian horror movie stars the director as himself. As he seeks out the services of a psychiatrist to help with disturbing visions, a serial killer roams the streets of the city. Expect plenty of gore.

Umberto D. (1952) – Vittorio De Sica’s heartwrenching tale of an elderly man (Carlo Battisti) in Rome who’s being forced out of his small apartment by his landlady. Included in Time Magazine’s list of the 100 best films of all time, which pretty much demands inclusion in any article that deals with movies about Rome.

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Whenever you’re in the mood for some movies about Rome, pop one of the above into your DVD or Blu-ray player. Before you know it, you’ll be transported to a city filled with ancient architecture, beautiful women, and more history than you can shake a stick at. Ciao, baby.

This entry was posted on Saturday, May 14th, 2011 at 6:19 am and is filed under Good Movies. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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