The Talented Mr Ripley sees Matt Damon play the charming but penniless Tom Ripley, a man hired by a wealthy magnate to travel to Italy and rescue his son, Dickie (Jude Law), from a life of indolence. Upon arrival, Tom discovers that Dickie has it all - including a beautiful girlfriend, Marge (Gwyneth Paltrow) - and begins to covet his luxurious lifestyle. Although Tom is sexually attracted to Dickie, the latter soon tires of him, and when Tom begins to find himself excluded from Dickie's coterie, his envy takes a murderous turn. Based on Patricia Highsmith's novel which also provided the inspiration for the French classic 'Plein Soleil' and Wim Wenders' 'The American Friend'. Both The Talented Mr Ripley and Plein Soleil are excellent but in different ways. Minghella's version has a lush Mediterranean sunkissed beauty, complemented by its talented and attractive young cast. Matt Damon enlists the viewer's sympathies and holds onto them until the final phase of the film, when Ripley's psychotic side really takes over. Classy and entertaining.
Anastasia (Dir. Anatole Litvak, 1956): The world will never know if the real Russian princess Anastasia met her death at the hands of red Russian rebels or if she lived on. Based on fact, this story is set against the mystery surrounding this elusive puzzle. Ingrid Bergman portrays the destitute woman who remarkably resembles the true Princess Anastasia. She is chosen by two Russian courtiers to masquerade as the princess in order to gain ten million pounds. Meeting scepticism originally from the family, Anastasia wins her way into the hearts of the family and film lovers alike. Love Is A Many Splendoured Thing (Dir. Henry King, 1955): Jennifer Jones stars in this true story about a widowed Eurasian doctor who falls in love with charming American war reporter Mark Elliot (William Holden) in Hong Kong during the troubled time of the Korean War. Their relationship is plagued by the bigotry of those around them and stunted because Elliot is already married. Nevertheless, their love is true. Under the experienced hand of director Henry King, a real chemistry between Jones and Holden lights up the screen and provides the pulse for this multihandkerchief weeper. At the same time, the quality of the script and the original story prevent the film from becoming overly sentimental. Add the exotic setting of Hong Kong, a fine score, and the Oscar-winning title song and the result is a light and entertaining tragic romance. Three Coins In A Fountain (Dir. Jean Negulesco, 1954): This charming romantic comedy tells the story of three American secretaries and their search for love in Rome. After throwing a coin in the Trevi Fountain and making a wish, each of them eventually finds what they are looking for. For Frances (Dorothy McGuire) it is waspish author Clifton Webb. For Anita (Jean Peters) there's office romeo Rossano Brazzi. And for Maria (Maggie McNamara) a real-life handsome prince, Louis Jourdan. Exquisitely photographed amidst the splendours of the Eternal City and Venice, this gorgeous sun-soaked movie will make you want to book a flight on the next plane to Italy! And, as an added bonus, you also hear Frank Sinatra singing the wonderful, Oscar® (1954) winning title song. The Inn Of The Sixth Of Happiness (Dir. Mark Robson, 1958): Inspired by her dream to be a missionary, an English parlour maid journeys to China and opens an inn for tired, hungry mule drivers crossing desolate mountain trails. Gradually overcoming the natives hostility, she wins the heart of an Eurasian colonel and converts a powerful mandarin to Christianity. But her greatest feat is achieved during the Japanese invasion of China when she leads one hundred homeless children to safety across enemy-held terrain. Based on the life story of Gladys Aylward, a modern day saint whose unquenchable passion to do good took her half way around the world. An Affair To Remember (Dir. Leo McCarey, 1957): In this legendary tearjerker, the world's most eligible bachelor (Cary Grant) is set to marry an heiress. But unfortunately for his bride-to-be, while he's traveling alone on a luxury liner he meets Terry McKay (Deborah Kerr) and realizes he's engaged to the wrong woman--and she's engaged to the wrong man. They finally agree to spend six months apart; if they still love each other at the end of that time, they will reunite at the top of the Empire State Building. But the path of true love does not always run smooth, and tragedy threatens to tear the couple apart. Leo McCarey directed both the original (Love Affair) and this remake, and viewers often amiably battle over which film is the more touching. This much-loved film features the Academy Award-nominated title song and a splendid supporting cast.
This is the real story of the mafia – a story that has never been fully told on television before. From the late 1950s onwards the mafia exploited the new opportunities for international travel and banking to turn itself into the biggest and most profitable criminal gang in history. It did so by one commodity: heroin. The Sicilians imported morphine base from the Middle East, turned it into heroin and smuggled it to the US. Their American cousins gave them the franchise to the biggest marketplace in the world – and made sure that they took their cut too. Starting from New York – with its huge American-Italian community, the power base of the American mob – the tentacles of the Sicilian mafia spread across the US. Heroin poured in from Sicily, hidden inside Italian foodstuffs and distributed via pizzerias across the nation. Money flowed the other way. The operation was so big that one gang in Philadelphia alone was laundering $5 million per day. It made the mafia in Sicily wealthy beyond their wildest dreams. This was globalisation, mafia style. It came with a heavy price, though. With money, war followed. Rival mafia clans fought for control of the heroin trade. It left thousands dead on both sides of the Atlantic. Astonishingly, many American and Italian law makers failed to pick up on the mafia’s heroin trafficking – and still more shocking, for a long time both were reluctant to acknowledge organised crime even existed. It took a handful of dedicated crime fighters in the US and Italy – men and women who were prepared to put their lives on the line – to bring the mob leaders to justice. This is the story of the mafia from the inside – from both sides of the criminal divide.
The kings of Italian cuisine Antonio Carluccio and Gennaro Contaldo return to Italy together to remember their own pasts and discover how the culinary capital of the world is changing the way it cooks and eats. Travelling to different Italian regions, they uncover a changed Italy in some areas and a fiercely traditional, mostly untouched world in others. In each of the four hour-long episodes, Carluccio and Contaldo will create dishes using recipes, ingredients and influences they discover along their gastronomic journey as well as some of their own favourite traditional meals. The journey is distinctly personal, drawing upon Antonio and Gennaro's upbringing in Italy through their memories and anecdotes, whilst reflecting their sometimes fractious, often hilarious relationship.
Elizabeth Gilbert (Julia Roberts) had one goal in life; to live a life of happiness with a husband and family. From the outside Elizabeth was the idol of many she had it all; a loving husband a successful career and a blissful life but Elizabeth wasn’t happy. She realised perhaps a little too late that this wasn’t her destiny at all. Based on the best selling memoirs of Elizabeth Gilbert Julia Roberts takes on the role of travelling the world in search of self discovery. She explores the realms of Italy and indulges in her love of exotic food. She travels to India and discovers the tranquillity of prayer and finally heads over to Bali where unexpectedly she finds the meaning of true love.
Nowhere fired Shakespeare's imagination quite like Italy. But as Francesco Da Mosto argues in this new two part series, Italian cities meant far more to our greatest author than just a sunlit setting. As Francesco takes us on a journey from North to South, visiting the spectacular locations that shaped the Bard's genius, the series celebrates Shakespeare as a popular entertainer. The emphasis is on accessibility as 'Shakespeare meets holiday adventure' under the blue skies of Italy. As Francesco travels between Venice, Verona, Padua, Milan, Mantua, Florence, Rome, Napoli, Sicily and Capri, considering 'Romeo and Juliet', 'The Merchant of Venice', 'Julius Caesar' and 'The Tempest' and others, there is also input from actors including Emma Thompson, Ciaran Hinds and Mark Rylance.
Italian food’s greatest champion, Antonio Carluccio takes us on a gastronomic tour of Northern Italy to bring us an insider’s view of his native land and its mouthwatering cuisine. Travelling around the north of the country, from the mountains of Liguria to Venice and Verona, Antonio Carluccio takes the best of the old and the most delicious of the modern and brings them together to create food that is as full of passion as it is of flavour. As Antonio returns to his childhood haunts for a family nosh-up, joins a porcini mushroom hunt, cheers on the teams in Venice’s annual gondoliers' race and visits Milan's famous design school, he swaps recipes with chefs, housewives, old friends and even Dominican monks. Inspired by the best ingredients and flavours of Northern Italy, Antonio demonstrates how to make a definitive pesto sauce and an authentic bolognese sauce; he reinterprets traditional dishes including rustic lentil and sausage casserole and pasta with white truffle sauce and also creates exciting new dishes such as polenta with shrimp and an ice cream indulgence called 'the Doges' delight'.
Painter of Silence Piero della Francesca's modern, innovative style proved popular among his 15th century contemporaries, but quickly fell out of fashion. It would be rediscovered some five centuries later, with a renewed appreciation of his distinctive, outstanding work. Little is known of his early life, but his short stay in Florence in his 20s left an indelible mark on della Francesco, influencing his work throughout his career. This fascinating programme examines that important period and travels in the footsteps of the great painter as he travelled around Italy, leaving signs of his work in Rimini, Perugia, Urbino, Ferrara, Venice and Rome. Sadly, many of his works do not survive, but those which do reveal much about this unique artist. His masterpieces demonstrate his understanding of the use of light, the influences of his surroundings and, most notably, his dedication to the mathematical study of proportion and perspective - the geometric forms make his surviving paintings stand out dramatically from other Renaissance works. As well as visiting the places which influenced della Francesco and discovering where the touches of his brush left their mark, we also enjoy his surviving masterpieces in spectacular footage and lingering close-up. The processes, meaning and importance of each are full explored, including the breathtaking Legend of the True Cross at the Franciscan Church in Arezzo. A study of the portraits and works commissioned from della Francesca reveal how art and architecture became one of the battlegrounds in the ongoing struggle for political power. While there are reflections of the social turbulence of the time, the works also demonstrate the tranquility of the Italian countryside - another quality of della Francesca's work which has earned him his place among the Great Masters of Art.
The BBC series The Art of Spain aimed to put Spanish art on the map. We know that Italy and Northern Europe are renowned for their art, but what about Spain? In this absorbing and original series, Spanish art gains centre stage as art historian Andrew Graham-Dixon goes on the road to reveal the fabulous art treasures of the country. Travelling from the south to the north he explores some of Europe's most important artists from Renaissance to Modernist – including Goya, Picasso, Dali, El Greco and Velasquez. And, going 'off the beaten track', he reveals rich insights into the culture and people who live and work with the greatest Spanish art and architecture every day. From Moorish art and the Islamic legacy on Spain and Europe to Modernism, Seville to Barcelona, food and wine, Andrew reveals that Spanish culture is every bit as rich as Italy's, with a more surprising edge.