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The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of

Sunday, January 30, 2000
Ghosts of Rome
Antonio Pietrangeli Italy, 1961

(Fantasmi a Roma). Mastroianni maintained a great fondness for this "tender, provocative, and highly intelligent" (Geoffrey Nowell-Smith) comedy about a Roman count who refuses to sell his ramshackle palazzo to a development company. He shares it with a strange crew of ancestral ghosts, including a friar, a woman who died for love, and a little boy. (Mastroianni plays one of the ghosts, an eighteenth-century dandy called Reginald.) When he dies and joins the ghosts in their incorporeal realm, the count's mansion falls into the hands of his no-good nephew (Marcello again) who sets out to sell it. The ghosts' plan to save their abode rests on a fresco they must convince the world is a Caravaggio. The combined suavity and charm of Mastroianni and Vittorio Gassman keeps the phantoms afloat.

• Written by Flaiano, Pietrangeli, Amidei, Scola, Maccari. Photographed by Giuseppe Rotunno. With Marcello Mastroianni, Sandra Milo, Vittorio Gassman, Eduardo De Filippo. (100 mins, In Italian with English subtitles, Color, 35mm)