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Raffaello Matarazzo's Runaway Melodramas - Eclipse Series 27 (Criterion)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Yvonne Sanson, Amedeo Nazzari, Françoise Rosay, Folco Lulli, Enrica Dyrell
  • Directors: Raffaello Matarazzo
  • Writers: Raffaello Matarazzo, Aldo De Benedetti, Gaspare Di Maio, Giovanna Soria, Libero Bovio
  • Format: Black & White, Full Screen, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: Italian
  • Subtitles: English
  • Number of discs: 4
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Criterion
  • Release Date: June 21 2011
  • Run Time: 388 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • ASIN: B004S801XQ
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #68,843 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, film critics, international festivalgoers, and other studious viewers were swept up by the tide of Italian neorealism. Meanwhile, mainstream Italian audiences were indulging in a different kind of cinema experience: the sensational, extravagant melodramas of superstar director Raffaello Matarazzo. These galvanic hits about splintered lovers and broken homes, all written by Aldo De Benedetti and starring mustachioed matinee idol Amedeo Nazzari and icon of feminine purity Yvonne Sanson, luxuriate in delirious plot twists and overheated religious symbolism. Four of them, each more unbridled and entertaining than the last, are collected here, chronicles of men and women on winding roads to redemption.


Chains After years of working mostly on comedies and literary adaptations, Raffaello Matarazzo turned to melodrama with this intense tale of a tight-knit working-class family shattered by temptation. There’s a touch of noir in Chains (Catene), in which the virtuous yet earthy Yvonne Sanson, as the devoted wife of a mechanic (Amedeo Nazzari), finds herself unwillingly drawn back toward a criminal ex-lover.

1949 · 94 minutes · Black & White · Monaural · In Italian with English subtitles · 1.33:1 aspect ratio

Tormento Anna (Sanson) flees her home, where she has been victimized for years by her spineless father’s mean-spirited second wife, to be with her lover (Nazzari), an honest businessman yet to make his fortune. When he is accused of a murder he didn’t commit, the couple’s domestic tranquillity is upended, and a desperate Anna must rely on her cruel stepmother for support for her child.

1950 · 98 minutes · Black & White · Monaural · In Italian with English subtitles · 1.33:1 aspect ratio

Nobody’s Children Bursting at the seams as it is with outlandish twists and turns, Nobody’s Children (I figli del nessuno) is only the first half of Matarazzo’s supersized diptych of melodramas, which chronicles the labyrinthine misfortunes of a couple torn cruelly apart by fate (and some meddling villains). When Guido (Nazzari), a young count, falls for Luisa (Sanson), the poor daughter of one of the miners who works at his family’s quarry, his mother and her nefarious henchman scheme epically to separate the two forever.

1952 · 96 minutes · Black & White · Monaural · In Italian with English subtitles · 1.33:1 aspect ratio

The White Angel In The White Angel (L’angelo bianco), Matarazzo’s sequel to his blockbuster Nobody’s Children, the perpetually put-upon Guido and Luisa (the Italian director’s eternal star couple, Nazzari and Sanson) return for a new round of trials and tribulations. This time, the reversals of fortune are even more insanely ornate, a plot twist involving doppelgängers beats Vertigo to the punch by three years, and the whole thing climaxes with a jaw-dropping women-in-prison set piece.

1955 · 100 minutes · Black & White · Monaural · In Italian with English subtitles · 1.33:1 aspect ratio

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Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars 4 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Italy's Douglas Sirk, master of melodrama July 9 2011
By Frankdecavalcante - Published on Amazon.com
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I was fascinated by a review of a reissue of Raffaello Matarazzo's Runaway Melodramas in the New York Times and couldnt wait to purchase the boxed set. The showpieces of the collection are the two related melodramas, "Nobody's Children" and "The White Angel." Both star veteran Italian actor, Amedeo Nazzari, an Errol Flynn lookalike and a beautiful Yvonne Sanson, who at various times looks like Joan Crawford and Ava Gardner. The plots are absolutely fantastic, with villains out of the early silents and more plot complications and coincidences that truly defy reason. Both stories verge on camp sensibilities, yet both films are utterly fascinating. Just when you think you have seen enough, the director surprises us once again with another unbelievable plot twist. It would be easy to poke fun at these films, but they never fail to entertain, and, at times, they are truly moving. Freudian undertones of suffocating mother love, the eternal Italian Madonna/ whore conflict and the Christian idea of suffering leading to redemption infuse these offbeat and highly melodramatic films. We may laugh at them, based on our familiarity with the classic Italian films of the same time, but they always are engrossing and they never bore.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Sept. 1 2011
By Antony Sellers - Published on Amazon.com
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While Italian neo-realist filmmaking conquered home and the world, with directors such as de Sica, Rossellini & Visconti at the forefront of the paradigm changing movement, in Italy itself, in the late 1940s, and early to mid 1950s, these heightened melodramas from Raffaello Matarazzo, were king of the box office, beloved of the ordinary classes of peasants and factory workers, telling stories of relationships stretched to bizarre limits, with restitution often found with a heavy overlay of conventional Catholic morality, they nevertheless remain hugely entertaining, and form a missing link in our understanding of Italian cinema of the period. One of the finest Eclipse sets yet!
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't underestimate the power of melodrama March 2 2014
By jacob - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Buying this set actually triggered an immense wave of guilt--mostly because, the more i thought about it, the less attractive madcap melodramas became--It wasn't until the damned thing arrived that I understood why it had seemed so worth it. These films combine moments of pathos akin to a Bette Davis tearjerker, the elegance of style common to all well constructed 50's greyscale dramas, with plot lines that make even the most absurd daytime soaps seem believable. you'll cry, you'll laugh--sometimes when you're not supposed to--but you won't have reason to regret this purchase. The image quality of this set is actually better some criterion releases i've seen, and that's not so much a knock to criterion as it is a bravo (or bravissimo) to eclipse. In all Honesty, these are guilty pleasure films, you don't want to enjoy them, but you do, and i love it!
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Old Italian Movies April 4 2014
By Vincent du St. Germaine - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I bought these a a gift for a friend. Very tragic old stories from Europe. Beautifully done, but if you don't know this kind of thing, it may be hard to get used to.