Public Domain Catalog

Lost and Rare
Rare Italian Classics Angel in Taxi card

ANGEL IN A TAXI (1958, Italy) 87m. English dubbed version. Directed by Leon Viola. Written by Leon Viola and Mario Monicelli. English dubbed version. Original Italian title: “Ballerina e Buon Dio.”

Angel in a Taxi is a charming comedy/fantasy in the tradition of Miracle in Milan that tells the story of a precocious and endearing six-year-old orphan boy, Marietto, who imagines that his lost mother is a ballerina whose picture he saw in a newspaper. When adoptive parents take him home, he runs off and joins acrobats, still harboring the dream of finding his beautiful mother. When he does locate her at the opera, he moves right in with an easy grace that brings Camilla under his spell and her life choices into focus. When Marietto feels rejected and disappears, Camilla’s true feelings surface.

Guiding Marietto’s quest and surprising destiny is an angelic figure played by the great Italian director Vittorio DeSica in three separate roles. First he is a policeman who helps Marietto pay for pastries, then a messenger who suggests he visit the opera where his “mother” is rehearsing, and finally a philosophical taxi driver who reunites Camilla and Marietto while performing a minor miracle. DVD: $24.95

LOVE AND LARCENY (1959, Italy) 92m. English dubbed. Vittorio Gassman has never been more carefree and devious as a creative swindler who works all the rackets and invents new one. You won't believe how he stages a fake wedding to bilk a jeweler or impersonates an army general right on the base to get a banker's down payment on a big but fake contract. Directed by Dino Risi who re-teamed with Gassman on "Scent of a Woman" in 1974.

Born in 1922, Vittorio Gassman studied theatre in his youth, debuted on stage in 1943 and soon felt home in all classical theatre works. His first big film role was the criminal in Bitter Rice (1949). This set a frequent role as an ambiguous gentleman who inflicted pain and pleasure at the same time. He also acted in Italian comedies and American movies, and was briefly married to Shelley Winters! DVD: $24.95

THE MAN WITH A CROSS "L'Uomo Dalla Croce"
(Italy, 1943) 75 min., Italian language with English subtitles. Directed by Roberto Rossellini - his third feature.

The Man with a Cross (Italian: L'uomo dalla croce) is a 1943 Italian war film directed by Roberto Rossellini and starring Alberto Tavazzi, Roswita Schmidt and Attilio Dottesio. It was the final part of Rossellini's "Fascist trilogy" following The White Ship (1941) and A Pilot Returns (1942).

It is loosely inspired by Reginaldo Giuliani, an Italian military chaplain who had been killed on active service. The film is set in the summer of 1942 in Ukraine where Italian troops are fighting those of the Soviet Union. A military chaplain volunteers to stay behind with a badly wounded Italian soldier, even though this means certain capture. DVD: $24.95

RETURN OF THE PILOT "Un Pilota Ritorna"
(Italy, 1942) 87 min. PLEASE NOTE: In Italian with NO English subtitles. Roberto Rossellini's second feature film.

During the 1940 Italian invasion of Greece, an Italian pilot is shot down and captured by British forces who place him in a prisoner-of-war camp. While there he meets and falls in love with a young Italian woman who has volunteered to care for the prisoners. After escaping from the British, he manages to steal a plane and return to Italy for further duty. On his arrival he learns that Greece has fallen. This extremely rare film is easy enough to follow even without subtitles. DVD: $24.95

Gospel poster

GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MATTHEW (1964, Italy) 130 min. Available either subtitled or dubbed. Director Pier Paolo Pasolini's celebrated story about the life of Christ stars Enrique Irazoqui as Jesus. Filmed in the actual locations.

Along a rocky, barren coastline, Jesus begins teaching, primarily using parables. He attracts disciples; he's stern, brusque, and demanding. He comes to bring a sword, not peace, he says. He's in a hurry, moving from place to place near the Sea of Galilee, sometimes attracting a multitude, sometimes being driven away. His parables often take on the powers that be, so he and his teachings come to the attention of the Pharisees, the chief priests, and elders. They conspire to have him arrested, beaten, tried, and crucified, just as he prophesied to his followers. After he dies, he appears to his disciples and gives them final instructions. DVD: $24.95