The Sebastiano Lucci Classic Italian film series at the Smith Opera House returns this Saturday with the second of four classic Italian films, The Star Maker. This Italian film from Giuseppe Tornatore is reminiscent of his earlier homage to the undying magic of cinema in 1989's “Cinema Paradiso”.
In 1953 Sicily, movie-mad con artist Joe Morelli (Sergio Castellitto) hatches a lucrative scam after he finds a U.S. Army camera and some film stock. He wanders the beautiful countryside and encounters its friendly residents, offering to give them all screen tests–for 1,500 lire apiece. These humble folks embrace the idea and reveal their dreams and regrets as if the camera is their priest. Tornatore's use of actual Sicilian townspeople in many of these scenes lends an incredible honesty and realism to their captivating tales of love, death, and desire for freedom. Their thoughts are etched on their expressive and well-worn faces.
Joe's scam takes an unexpected turn when the openness and honesty of the townsfolk stirs something foreign in him–his conscience. When he meets Beata (Tiziana Lodato), a gorgeous young woman raised in isolation in a village convent, Joe is truly captivated, and loses himself in his new protege. Beata is a true beauty and she is photogenic and captivating on screen. She desires fame and fortune, and believes Joe can make her a true star. Together with Beata, Joe travels to the small rundown villages of Sicily, selling dreams of fame.
This simple film is a love letter to the enduring power of cinema and the flights of fancy that can be captured in the simple stories of individuals everywhere.
“The Star Maker” will be screened at 7 p.m. Oct. 19; running time is 1 hour, 46 minutes. In Italian with subtitles, this film is rated R. All seats for this special series are $5.
The Sebastiano Lucci Classic Italian Film Series is co-sponsored by The Geneva Sons of Italy. Other films in the series include “Ciao Professore” on November 23 and “Satyricon” on December 7.