Loyola University Chicago

John Felice Rome Center

Litr 264 / IntS 264 / IFMS 264 - Italian Film Genre: Vittorio de sica - master of screen 



Tuesday 7:00-9:30 PM - Study Hall

Thursday 10:55 AM-12: 10 PM - Room GL1


Professor: Dr. Flaminio Di Biagi  Office: Rm 127 (Tel.ext. 333; e-mail: fdibiag@luc.educ)

Office Hours:  Tue. 6:00-7:00 PM;  Thu. 12:10-1:10 PM  (and by appointment)



This course is a survey study of the works of an extraordinary Italian filmmaker: Vittorio De Sica, talented actor and, above all, one of the most innovative director of all times. By following his career – from the beginnings to the internationally successful hits – we will also focus on some major genres of the Italian Movie Industry (such as “White Telephone” Comedies, Neo-realism, Comedy Italian Style, etc.). A few films by some other directors, who were greatly influenced by De Sica’s work, will also be analyzed. This course is therefore specifically based on Italian movies; they will be presented and analyzed in class, in a chronological order; hopefully they will provide a deeper knowledge both of the Film Industry and the Film as an artistic form of expression, in Italy. Class discussions focus mostly on a “textual” analysis of the films, but they imply a general, background understanding of Italy. Indeed, the course maintains an historical! sociological perspective in its setting, since many of our movies can also be considered a peculiar “reservoir” of information about the Italian history, lifestyle, culture, politics, economic situation and social transformations in the 20th Century. As in a sort of “on location” course, we’ll “see” and compare the movies to the society they represent: the Country and its cinematic expressions, the image and the mirrors. Offered in English. No knowledge of Italian is required, yet all films are in Italian with English subtitles.


Attendance is a must (at every single lesson there will be an official sign-up sheet). Students are expected to come to each class well prepared, and having read textbooks. Any assigned material should be read thoroughly for the class day indicated. During projections all are expected to pay attention to the film, take notes, and then contribute to the following in-class discussion. Films will be only shown once, in class, usually on Tuesdays, but times may vary, according to length of movies (expect subtitles, some extra-long, challenging movies, some simultaneous translations in class!). Screenings will be introduced & followed by lectures and class discussions (usually on Thursdays), with comments, questions, etc. Each screening will provide: a) background information on the content; b) historical, political, cultural perspectives; c) textual analysis of the film. Discussions focus on a narrative-literary-formal-thematic-aesthetical-stylistic analysis of the film, as the course satisfies a Core Literature requirement.


Howard Curie & Stephen Snyder (eds.), Vittorio De Sica: Contemporary Perspectives, Toronto: Un. of To. Press, 2000; other photocopied handouts will be distributed in class, and these will also be considered study texts. Optional supports will be “on reserve” at the circulation desk of the LURC Library, under the Instructor’s name. Students should refer to those texts as well (Louis Giannetti, Understanding Movies; Geoffrey Nowell Smith, The Companion to Italian Cinema; John Moscowitz, Critical Approaches to Writing About Film; Ira Konigsberg, The Complete Film Dictionary, etc).


Final Grade is actually the result of reading texts, attending classes, studying, “being alive & thinking”. Anyhow the following scale & percentages will be used to determine the student’s grade: SCALE:  A = 100-96  A- = 95-93  B+ = 92-9 1  B = 90-87  B- = 86-85  C+ = 84-83  C = 82-79  C- 78-77  D+ = 76-75  D = 74-72  D- = 7 1-70  F = Below 70; PERCENTAGES:  Midterm ex: 20% - Final ex: 30% - Reviews/Quizzes: 20% - Final Paper: 15% - Class discussion/participation: 10% - Extra projections: 5%.


Exams: will require tasks such as: identifications, definitions, questions, control of data, writing brief essays. Midterm and Final Exam will include and cover: textbooks, reading materials, the films, and all topics presented or discussed during lectures. To perform well on these exams, students must make an effort to come to class regularly. Film reviews: must be 2 pages long (Times New Roman, font 12, double-spaced). Students are requested to use a proper academic vocabulary, and apply the technical terminology (refer to Understanding Movies and The Complete Film Dictionary). Reviews should not be a summary of the film, but a personalized “reading” (i.e. a critical interpretation and evaluation). Criticism must always be grounded on specific scenes, events, lines, characters, images, acting skills, cinematic styles, camerawork, director’s point of view, etc. of the film reviewed. When using some scholar’s idea in building their criticism, students must directly refer to their source, by quoting the author’s name, title of the book, date, page. Final paper: this is to be a personal research paper, and should develop a specific analysis in at least 5-6 pages (Times New Roman, font 12, double-spaced). Students can study a genre or a director, analyzing and comparing in a proper cultural/historical perspective one or two more of his films. In finding a topic, students are requested to consult and discuss with the instructor before final approval of a basic one-page outline. Class participation: active participation is very important for the success of a course such as this, therefore students are encouraged to discuss, and intellectually interact with the instructor and all the other colleagues in class. Attendance: is required, especially since our “texts” are films presented only in class, once. Please be aware that your absence will not only weaken your performance, but also influence your grade: unexcused absences will lower your final grade by 2% for each missed class. Students should be familiar with the honor code of University life, abide by its standards at all times, and expect similar behavior from their peers. Note: all classes, whether on Tuesdays or Thursdays, can be used for projections (check program); EXTRA CREDIT FILMS ARE “ON RESERVE”: (CHOOSE ONE, AND WRITE A REVIEW ON IT).




January 15, Thu: introduction, syllabus, policies, tools, requirements, technical terms, De Sica’s bio & pics, his silent films, Fascism & cinema,           clip: Il signor Max (Camerini, 1937)

January 20, Tue: the “matinee idol”, clip: Grandi magazzini (Camerini, 1939), film: Gli uomini che mascalzoni (Camerini, 1932)

January 22, Thu: Darò un milione (Camerini, 1935)

January 27, Tue: 1st works, The Children Are Watching Us (De Sica, 1943), class disc.

January 29, Thu: class discussion

February 3, Tue: Shoeshine (De Sica, 1946)

February 5, Thu: class discussion, Neorealism

February 10, Tue: Bicycle Thief (De Sica, 1948)

February 12, Thu: class discussion

February 17, Tue: Miracle in Milan (De Sica, 1950)

February 19, Thu: class discussion, Zavattini [clips of Zav.]

February 24, Tue: Umberto D (De Sica, 1952)

February 26, Thu: class discuss., actor “reborn”, Frine episode from Altri tempi (Blasetti, 1952), Abbasso la ricchezza (46) & Nel blu dipinto di blu (59), [clips]

[EXTRA CREDIT PROJECTION]: Monday March 2 (7:00 PM GL1): Stazione Termini (De Sica, 1953)

March 3, Tue: Bread, Love and Dreams (Comencini, 1953), class discuss., recap

March 5, Thu: Midterm Exam

March 6 - March 15: SPRING BREAK

March 17, Tue: General Della Rovere (Rossellini, 1959), class discussion

March 19, Thu: Farewell to Arms (Vidor, 1957) It started in Naples (Shavelson, 1960) [clips]

March 24, Tue: Two Women (De Sica, 1960)

March 26, Thu: class discussion, introduction to Comedy Italian Style, the “boom”

March 31, Tue: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (De Sica, 1963)

April 2, Thu: class discuss., Il Boom (DeS., 1963) [clips], That’s Life (documentary)

April 7, Tue: After the Fox (De Sica, 1966)

April 9, Thu: class discussion, Un amore a Roma (Risi, 1960) [clips]

April 10 - 13: EASTER

April 14, Tue: The Garden of the Finzi-Contini (De Sica, 1970)

April 16, Thu: class discussion, Come scopersi l’America (1950), We All Loved Each Other So Much (Scola, 1974) The Icicle Thief (Nichetti, 1989) [clips]

April 21, Tue: The Player (Altman, 1992), class, discussion

April 23, Thu: conclusions, De Sica’s legacy, Stray Dogs (Meshkini, 2004), [clips], evaluate.

April 25, Saturday: Final Exam (Study Hall, 11:30 AM - 1:30 PM)