The Leopard – Luchino Visconti (1963)

The Leopard (Italian: Il Gattopardo, ‘The Serval‘; alternative title: Le Guépard) is a 1963 Italian epic period drama film by director Luchino Visconti, based on Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa‘s novel of the same name. Sicily, 1860. The corpse of a Royalist soldier is found in the garden of the villa of Don Fabrizio Corbera, Prince of Salina (the gardener quips that these soldiers stink as much in death as they do in life). As the Prince’s large family enjoys the customary comforts and privileges of an ancient and noble name, including private services with their Jesuit priest, war has broken out between the King‘s army and the insurgent volunteer redshirts of Giuseppe Garibaldi. Among the rebels is the Prince’s remarkably handsome and dashing nephew, Tancredi, with whose romantic politics the Prince shares some whimsical sympathy (and a good deal of material support—Tancredi is a notorious spendthrift). … The film features an international cast including the American Burt Lancaster, the Frenchman Alain Delon , the Italian Claudia Cardinale (who is dubbed in the Italian version by Solvejg D’Assunta because her native tongue was French) and Terence Hill (Mario Girotti). In the Italian-language version, Lancaster’s lines are dubbed into Italian by Corrado Gaipa; while in the 161-minute U.S English dubbed version, Lancaster’s original voice work is heard. When Visconti was told by producers that they needed to cast a star in order to help to ensure that they’d earn enough money to justify the big budget, the director’s first choice was one of the Soviet Union’s preeminent actors, Nikolai Cherkasov. Learning that Cherkasov was in no condition, Twentieth Century Fox stipulated that the star should be either Gregory Peck, Anthony Quinn, Spencer Tracy or Burt Lancaster. The producers chose Hollywood star Burt Lancaster without consulting Visconti, which insulted the director and caused tension on the set; but Visconti and Lancaster ended up working well together, and their resulting friendship lasted the rest of their lives. The film was a big hit at the French box office. … Director Martin Scorsese considers the film to be one of the greatest ever made.  The Leopard has circulated in at least four different versions. Visconti’s first cut was 205 minutes long, but was felt to be excessive in length by both the director and producer, and was shortened to 195 minutes for its Cannes Film Festival premiere. …”
W – Luchino Visconti
W – Giuseppe Garibaldi, W – Redshirts (Italy), W – Expedition of the Thousand
Roger Ebert
Vanity Fair: Scorsese Restores The Leopard and Revives Cannes’s Golden Age
NY Times (August 13, 1963)
senses of cinema: The Contiguous World of Luchino Visconti’s The Leopard
YouTube: The Leopard

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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