The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, December 2-8

Parmigiana

La Parmigiana (The Girl from Parma) (1963)
Directed by Antonio Pietrangeli
Pietrangeli’s tragicomic films denounce the hypocrisy inherent in Italians’ efforts to cover up their robbing of their nation’s resources. These resources include Italy’s middle- and lower-class women, who in masterworks such as Adua and Her Friends, The Visitor, and I Knew Her Well find their present states and futures compromised by things that they’ve done to survive in the past. A cycle of exploitation, masquerading as shame, thus involves them from all directions. In one of La Parmigiana’s two plotlines, teenage Dora (played by Catherine Spaak) arrives in the city of Parma to stay with her late mother’s friend (Didi Perego) and the woman’s uncomfortably lusty husband (Salvo Randone); in the other one, interwoven with it, the discovery of a younger Dora’s affair with a seminarian forces her to leave her small hometown and subsequently rely (with some scruples and discretion) upon men desiring to pay for her. The passage of time shows her moving from the arms of a petty crook that she loves (Nino Manfredi) through those of a possessive, small-minded Parma policeman (Lando Buzzanca), until Dora ends up alone and owning only one thing: Herself, to sell as she pleases. Aaron Cutler (New 35mm print screens December 8, 14, 4:30pm at MoMA’s Pietrangeli retrospective)

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