Conversation Piece (1974) | Luchino Visconti’s meditation on family, beauty and decadence is a quiet achiever

Conversation Piece (1974)

Directed with operatic flare by Luchino Visconti (following his recovery from a stroke), 1974’s Conversation Piece is dominated by a finely controlled turn by Burt Lancaster as a retired American professor who has filled his apartment in Rome with 18th-century paintings of family groups known as ‘conversation pieces’.

Conversation Piece (1974)

But when the brash Countess Brumonti (Silvana Mangano) lures the professor into accepting her family and young German lover (Helmut Berger) as tenants, he finds his ordered life and self-composure increasingly disrupted by their presence…

Conversation Piece (1974)

Set inside the confines of a grand old palazzo, Visconti’s penultimate film (which was shot in English) is a sleek, sly critique of the decadent European jet set that gets better with age.

You’ll be hard-pressed to have little empathy for the self-absorbed Brumonti brood or Berger’s decadent lothario, but Lancaster’s professor is real softie who will melt your heart. And the way he deals with his life being turned upside down is a wonderful lesson in humility. This is a quiet achiever from a master director in his final years.

Conversation Piece (1974)

Conversation Piece gets a dual-format release following a brand new 2k restoration from Eureka! Entertainment as part of their Masters of Cinema Series. Extras include the Italian dub soundtrack, optional subtitles, an interview with screenwriter Alessandro Bencivenni, trailer and a collector’s booklet.




About Peter Fuller

Peter Fuller is an award-winning print, radio and television journalist and producer, with over 30 years experience covering film and television, with a special interest in world cinema and popular culture. He is a leading expert on the life and career of Vincent Price and actively promotes the actor's legacy through publications, websites and special events.

Posted on September 22, 2016, in Must-See, The Masters of Cinema, World Cinema and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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