Italian Films Flashback

Italian cinema differs the most from Hollywood in its origins, while the start of American cinema was money driven, the birth of Italian cinema was about expression and showing the harsh truths present in the earlier 20th century. This expressionist approach has been fluidly changing ever since, with some films featuring realism, and others surrealism as artistic intentions evolved. There are many classic Italian films that have succeeded on an international level, such as Life is Beautiful (1997) which went on to win three Oscars, and The Godfather (1972) which gained a cult following worldwide. Hollywood has also been greatly influenced by Italian filmmaking and styles, such as neorealism, further noting the impact and power their films have internationally.

Check out CulturalPulse’s shortlist of the best Italian films over the past 70 years below.


Umberto D. (1951)

Genre: Drama
IMDB Rating: 8.2
Director: Vittorio De Sica
Stars: Carlo Battisti, Maria Pia Casilio, Lina Gennari, Ileana Simova
Synopsis: An elderly man and his dog struggle to survive on his government pension in Rome….  See full summary »

I Vitelloni (1953)

Genre: Comedy, Drama
IMDB Rating: 8
Director: Federico Fellini
Stars: Alberto Sordi, Franco Fabrizi, Franco Interlenghi, Leopoldo Trieste
Synopsis: A character study of five young men at crucial turning points in their lives in a small town in Italy…  See full summary »

La Strada (1954)

Genre: Drama
IMDB Rating: 8,1
Director: Federico Fellini
Stars: Anthony Quinn, Giulietta Masina, Richard Basehart, Aldo Silvani
Synopsis: A care-free girl is sold to a traveling entertainer, consequently enduring physical and emotional pain along the way…  See full summary »

The Nights of Cabiria (1957)

Genre: Drama
IMDB Rating: 8,1
Director: Federico Fellini
Stars: Giulietta Masina, François Périer, Franca Marzi, Dorian Gray
Synopsis: A waifish prostitute wanders the streets of Rome looking for true love but finds only heartbreak…  See full summary »

The Great War (1958)

Genre: Comedy, Drama, War
IMDB Rating: 8,3
Director: Mario Monicelli
Stars: Alberto Sordi, Vittorio Gassman, Bernard Blier, Folco Lulli
Synopsis: The Italian Army fought against the Austrians during World War I…  See full summary »


Rocco and His Brothers(1960)

Genre: Crime, Drama, Sport
IMDB Rating: 8.3
Director: Luchino Visconti
Stars:  Alain Delon, Renato Salvatori, Annie Girardot, Claudia Cardinale
Synopsis: Having recently been uprooted to Milan, Rocco and his four brothers each look for a new way in life when a prostitute comes between Rocco and his brother Simone…  See full summary »

For a Few Dollars More (1965)

Genre: Western
IMDB Rating: 8.3
Director: Sergio Leone
Stars:  Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Gian Maria Volontè, Mario Brega
Synopsis: Two bounty hunters with the same intentions team up to track down a Western outlaw…  See full summary »

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)

Genre: Western
IMDB Rating: 8.8
Director: Sergio Leone
Stars:  Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach, Lee Van Cleef, Aldo Giuffrè
Synopsis: A bounty hunting scam joins two men in an uneasy alliance against a third in a race to find a fortune in gold buried in a remote cemetery…  See full summary »


Genre: Drama, War
IMDB Rating: 8.6
Director: Raffaele Andreassi
Stars:  Fred Robsahm, Pilar Castel, Dada Gallotti, Sandra Dal Sasso
Synopsis: Heinz Prulier (Fred Robsahm) is a German soldier stationed as a sniper overlooking his own army from a tree. When he falls asleep, his troops are gone and he is left alone to defend the See full summary »

Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

Genre: Western
IMDB Rating: 8.5
Director: Sergio Leone
Stars:  Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, Claudia Cardinale, Jason Robards
Synopsis: A mysterious stranger with a harmonica joins forces with a notorious desperado to protect a beautiful widow from a ruthless assassin working for the railroad…  See full summary »


The Conformist (1970)

Genre: Drama
IMDB Rating: 8.1
Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Stars: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Stefania Sandrelli, Gastone Moschin, Enzo Tarascio
Synopsis: A weak-willed Italian man becomes a fascist flunky who goes abroad to arrange the assassination of his old teacher, now a political dissident… See full summary »

Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (1970)

Genre: Crime, Drama
IMDB Rating: 8.1
Director: Elio Petri
Stars: Gian Maria Volontè, Florinda Bolkan, Gianni Santuccio, Orazio Orlando
Synopsis: A chief of detectives, homicide section, kills his mistress and deliberately leaves clues to prove his own responsibility for the crime… See full summary »

The Godfather (1972)

Genre: Crime, Drama
IMDB Rating: 9.2
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Stars: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Diane Keaton
Synopsis: The aging patriarch of an organized crime dynasty transfers control of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son… See full summary »

We All Loved Each Other So Much (1974)

Genre: Comedy, Drama
IMDB Rating: 8.1
Director: Ettore Scola
Stars: Nino Manfredi, Vittorio Gassman, Stefania Sandrelli, Stefano Satta Flores
Synopsis: Gianni, Nicola and Antonio become close friends in 1944 while fighting the Nazis. After the end of the war, full of illusions, they settle down. The movie is a the story of the life of… See full summary »


Lion of the Desert (1980)

Genre: Biography, Drama, History
IMDB Rating: 8.4
Director: Moustapha Akkad
Stars: Anthony Quinn, Oliver Reed, Rod Steiger, Irene Papas
Synopsis: In 1929, Italian Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini appoints General Rodolfo Graziani as colonial governor to Italian Libya with orders to stamp-out all resistance from Libyan nationalists led by rebel guerrilla leader Omar Mukhtar… See full summary »

Nostalgia  (1983)

Genre: Drama
IMDB Rating: 8.1
Director: Andrei Tarkovsky
Stars: Oleg Yankovskiy, Erland Josephson, Domiziana Giordano, Patrizia Terreno
Synopsis: A Russian poet and his interpreter travel to Italy to research the life of an 18th-century composer… See full summary »

Kaos  (1984)

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
IMDB Rating: 7.9
Director: Paolo Taviani
Stars: Margarita Lozano, Orazio Torrisi, Carlo Cartier, Biagio Barone
Synopsis: Five stories by Luigi Pirandello set in turn-of-the-century Italy… See full summary »

Nothing Left to Do but Cry (1984)

Genre: Comedy, Fantasy
IMDB Rating: 7.8
Director: Roberto Benigni
Stars: Massimo Troisi, Roberto Benigni, Iris Peynado, Amanda Sandrelli
Synopsis: In the 80s, two friends misteriously wake up in the XV century and clumsily try to intermingle with the society of the time… See full summary »

Cinema Paradiso (1988)

Genre: Drama
IMDB Rating: 8.5
Director: Giuseppe Tornatore
Stars: Philippe Noiret, Enzo Cannavale, Antonella Attili, Isa Danieli
Synopsis: A filmmaker recalls his childhood when falling in love with the pictures at the cinema of his home village and forms a deep friendship with the cinema’s projectionist… See full summary »


Everybody’s Fine (1990)

Genre: Drama
IMDB Rating: 7.8
Director: Giuseppe Tornatore
Stars: Marcello Mastroianni, Michèle Morgan, Valéria Cavalli, Marino Cenna
Synopsis: Matteo Scuro is a retired Sicilian bureaucrat (responsible mainly for the writing of birth certificates) and a father of five children, all of whom live on the mainland and hold responsible… See full summary »

The Stolen Children (1992)

Genre: Drama
IMDB Rating: 7.5
Director: Gianni Amelio
Stars: Enrico Lo Verso, Valentina Scalici, Giuseppe Ieracitano, Florence Darel
Synopsis: Antonio, a policeman (carabiniere), has an order to take two children (Rosetta and her brother Luciano) from Milan to Sicily to an orphanage. Their mother has been arrested for forcing… See full summary »

The Monster (1994)

Genre: Comedy, Crime, Mystery
IMDB Rating: 7.5
Director: Roberto Benigni
Stars: Roberto Benigni, Michel Blanc, Nicoletta Braschi, Dominique Lavanant
Synopsis: After a series of bizarre actions, Loris is mistaken for a serial killer. Jessica, a policewoman in undercover, will try to induce him to commit a murder… See full summary »

The Postman (Il Postino) (1994)

Genre: Biography, Comedy, Drama
IMDB Rating: 7.7
Director: Michael Radford
Stars: Massimo Troisi, Philippe Noiret, Maria Grazia Cucinotta, Renato Scarpa
Synopsis: Simple Italian postman learns to love poetry while delivering mail to a famous poet; he uses this to woo local beauty Beatrice… See full summary »

Life Is Beautiful (1997)

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
IMDB Rating: 8.6
Director: Roberto Benigni
Stars: Roberto Benigni, Nicoletta Braschi, Giorgio Cantarini, Giustino Durano
Synopsis: When an open-minded Jewish librarian and his son become victims of the Holocaust, he uses a perfect mixture of will, humor, and imagination to protect his son from the dangers around their camp… See full summary »


Malèna (2000)

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
IMDB Rating: 7.5
Director: Giuseppe Tornatore
Stars: Monica Bellucci, Giuseppe Sulfaro, Luciano Federico, Matilde Piana
Synopsis: Amidst the war climate, a teenage boy discovering himself becomes love-stricken by Malèna, a sensual woman living in a small, narrow-minded Italian town. See full summary »

One Hundred Steps (2000)

Genre: Biography, Crime, Drama
IMDB Rating: 7.6
Director: Marco Tullio Giordana
Stars: Luigi Lo Cascio, Luigi Maria Burruano, Lucia Sardo
Synopsis:“I cento passi” (one hundred steps) was the distance between the Impastatos’ house and the house of Tano Badalamenti, an important Mafia boss, in the small Sicilian town of Cinisi. The… See full summary »

The Sons Room (2001)

Genre: Drama
IMDB Rating: 7.3
Director: Nanni Moretti
Stars: Nanni Moretti, Laura Morante, Jasmine Trinca
Synopsis: A psychoanalyst and his family go through profound emotional trauma when their son dies in a scuba diving accident… See full summary »

Best of Youth (2003)

Genre: Drama, Romance
IMDB Rating: 8.5
Director: Nanni Moretti
Stars: Nanni Moretti, Laura Morante, Jasmine Trinca
Synopsis: A psychoanalyst and his family go through profound emotional trauma when their son dies in a scuba diving accident… See full summary »

I’m Not Scared (2003)

Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery
IMDB Rating: 7.5
Director: Gabriele Salvatores
Stars: Aitana Sánchez-Gijón, Dino Abbrescia, Giorgio Careccia, Riccardo Zinna
Synopsis: A young boy accidentally discovers a deep hole in the ground, where another boy is kept prisoner. See full summary »

The Consequences of Love (2004)

Genre: Crime, Drama, Romance
IMDB Rating: 7.6
Director: Paolo Sorrentino
Stars: Toni Servillo, Olivia Magnani, Adriano Giannini, Antonio Ballerio
Synopsis: An introverted man’s life changes completely when he finds himself attracted to a young bar-maid. See full summary » 

Libero (Along the Ridge) (2006)

Genre: Drama
IMDB Rating: 7.5
Director: Kim Rossi Stuart
Stars: Alessandro Morace, Kim Rossi Stuart, Barbora Bobulova, Marta Nobili
Synopsis: A young father and his two children struggle to find harmony after his wife leaves them for another man. See full summary » 


Loose Cannons (2010)

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
IMDB Rating: 7.3
Director: Ferzan Ozpetek
Stars: Riccardo Scamarcio, Nicole Grimaudo, Alessandro Preziosi, Ennio Fantastichini
Synopsis: Tommaso is the youngest son of the Cantones, a large, traditional southern Italian family operating a pasta-making business since the 1960s. On a trip home from Rome, where he studies … See full summary »

The First Beautiful Thing (2010)

Genre: Comedy, Drama
IMDB Rating: 7.1
Director: Paolo Virzì
Stars: Valerio Mastandrea, Micaela Ramazzotti, Stefania Sandrelli, Claudia Pandolfi
Synopsis: A misanthropic professor returns to his hometown to assist his dying mother. See full summary »

Suburra (2013)

Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
IMDB Rating: 7.8
Director: Stefano Sollima
Stars: Pierfrancesco Favino, Elio Germano, Claudio Amendola, Alessandro Borghi
Synopsis: A gangster known as “Samurai” wants to turn the waterfront of Rome into a new Las Vegas. All the local mob bosses have agreed to work for this common goal. But peace is not to last long. See full summary »

The Mafia Kills Only in Summer (2013)

Genre: Comedy, Crime
IMDB Rating: 7.4
Director: Pif
Stars: Cristiana Capotondi, Pif, Alex Bisconti, Ginevra Antona
Synopsis: Inspired by real events, this is a black comedy about 20 years of history of Sicily from 1970s to 1990s, mocking Mafia Bosses and restoring the generosity of the heroes of Antimafia.  … See full summary »

I Can Quit Whenever I Want (2014)

Genre: Comedy, Crime
IMDB Rating: 7.3
Director: Sydney Sibilia
Stars: Edoardo Leo, Valeria Solarino, Valerio Aprea, Paolo Calabresi
Synopsis: A university researcher is fired because of the cuts to university. To earn a living he decides to produce drugs recruiting his former colleagues, who despite their skills are living at the margins of society. See full summary »

They Call Me Jeeg (2015)

Genre: Action, Drama, Sci-Fi
IMDB Rating: 7.2
Director: Gabriele Mainetti
Stars: Claudio Santamaria, Luca Marinelli, Ilenia Pastorelli, Stefano Ambrogi
Synopsis: Enzo, a lonely and misanthropic small time crook, uses the superpowers gained after falling in the Tiber river to chase down a crazy gangster called “The gypsy” See full summary »

Like Crazy (2016)

Genre: Comedy, Drama
IMDB Rating: 7.2
Director: Paolo Virzì
Stars: Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Micaela Ramazzotti, Valentina Carnelutti, Sergio Albelli
Synopsis: Two quite different women escape a mental institution to see Tuscany in a stolen car and get to know each other. See full summary »

The Italian Race (2016)

Genre: Drama, Sport
IMDB Rating: 7.1
Director: Matteo Rovere
Stars: Stefano Accorsi, Matilda De Angelis, Paolo Graziosi, Lorenzo Gioielli
Synopsis: A misanthropic professor returns to his hometown to assist his dying mother. See full summary »

Tutto quello che vuoi (2017)

Genre: Comedy, Drama
IMDB Rating: 7
Director: Francesco Bruni
Stars: Andrea Carpenzano, Giuliano Montaldo, Arturo Bruni, Vittorio Emanuele Propizio
Synopsis: A young man named Alessandro begrudgingly accepts a job as a companion for Giorgio, an elderly poet with Alzheimer’s. As they banter during their daily walks, they slowly piece together See full summary »