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Post-World War II Italian Immigrants in Cinema

Post-World War II Italian Immigrants in Cinema

Laura E. Ruberto (September 14, 2016)
Wild is the Wind, directed by George Cukor
Film poster, 1957

An evolving list of U.S.- and Italian- produced films featuring Italian immigrants to the United States from 1945 to the present.


Below here is a film  list I created as a part of a research project where I was looking for how post-World War II Italian immigration to the U.S. has been represented in feature films. 

The result of that research is an article:


‘Hot-Blooded Eye-talian’ Women: The Lascivious and Desperate Italian Post-World War II Immigrant in Cinema

to be published in the interdisciplinary anthology  
New Italian Migrations to the United States, Vol. 2: Art and Culture Since 1945, which I co-edited with  Joseph Sciorra for University of Illinois Press (forthcoming).

About The Article
In the article I focus on a just a handful of films made in the first decades after World War II which feature recent Italian immigrant narratives and starring Italian-born actors such as Sophia Loren, Pier Angeli, and Anna Magnani. I look at how the immmigrant characters are both hyper-sexualized and marked as desperate and poor. These exoticized, almost exclusively female, postwar cinematic Italian immigrants helped create the dominant mediated image of Italian Americans in the latter half of the twentieth century of less-assimilated, ethnic whites.

About This List

The films listed here cover more ground than those in my article and together suggest the wealth of filmic images representing Italian immigration to the U.S. since 1945. 
Of the films listed here, in each case, one or more character fits the following criteria. Italians who:
-       definitely immigrated (temporarily or permanently) to the U.S. any time after 1945
-       appear to have immigrated to the U.S. any time after 1945
-       almost immigrated to the U.S. any time after 1945
-       are trying to immigrate to the U.S. any time after 1945.
At a later date I may provide an annotated description but for now I merely note the title of the films, listed chronologically by initial release date. I do not include documentaries but I do include at least one mockumentary.

Suggestions For The List?
I welcome other examples added in the comment section, or email me at [email protected]. I will update the list periodically.
  • ·      Un Americano in vacanza/A Yank in Rome (Luigi Zampa, Italy, 1946)
  • ·      Key Largo (John Huston, USA, 1948)
  • ·      Senza pieta/Without Pity (Alberto Lattuada, Italy, 1948)
  • ·      Thieves’ Highway (Jules Dassin, USA, 1949)
  • ·      Il Mulatto/Angelo (Francesco De Robertis, Italy, 1950)
  • ·      Catene (Raffaello Matarazzo, Italy, 1950)
  • ·      Teresa  (Fred Zinnemann, USA, 1951)
  • ·      Un Americano a Roma (Steno, Italy, 1954)
  • ·      The Rose Tattoo (Daniel Mann, USA, 1955)
  • ·      Baby Doll (Elia Kazan, USA, 1956)
  • ·      The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (Nunnally Johnson, USA, 1956)
  • ·      Mogli e buoi  (Leonardo De Mitri, Italy, 1956)
  • ·      Wild is the Wind (George Cukor, USA, 1957)
  • ·      Anna di Brooklyn (Vittorio De Sica and Carlo Lastricati, Italy 1958)
  • ·      Houseboat (Melville Shavelson, USA, 1958)
  • ·      Black Orchid (USA, Martin Ritt, 1959)
  • ·      That Kind of Woman (Sidney Lumet, USA, 1959)
  • ·      The Fugitive Kind (Sidney Lumet, USA, 1959)
  • ·      It Started in Naples  (Melville Shavelson, USA, 1960)
  • ·      Il Giudizio Universale/The Last Judgment (Vittorio De Sica, Italy, 1961)
  • ·      Mafioso (Alberto Lattuada, Italy, 1962)
  • ·      A View From a Bridge (Sidney Lumet, Italy/France, 1962)
  • ·      Salvatore Giuliano (Francesco Rosi, Italy, 1962)
  • ·      Smog (Franco Rossi, Italy, 1962)
  • ·      Johnny Cool (William Asher, USA, 1963)
  • ·      La donnaccia  (Silvio Siano, Italy, 1965)
  • ·      Dramma nel porto (Roberto Bianchi Monteri, Italy, 1965)
  • ·      How to Murder Your Wife (Richard Quine, USA, 1965)
  • ·      Una moglie Americana/Run For Your Wife (Gian Luigi Polidoro, Italy, 1965)
  • ·      Not With My Wife, You Don’t (Norman Panama, USA, 1966)
  • ·      What Did You Do in the War, Daddy (Blake Edwards, USA, 1966)
  • ·      Un Italiano in America/An Italian in America (Alberto Sordi, Italy, 1967)
  • ·      Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell (Melvin Frank, USA, 1968) 
  • ·      Stiletto (Bernard Kowalski, USA, 1969)
  • ·      Un Italiano in America (Alberto Sordi, Italy, 1969)
  • ·      La Mortadella/Lady Liberty (Mario Monicelli, Italy/France, 1971)
  • ·      Permette? Rocco Papaleo/My Name is Rocco Papaleo (Ettore Scola, Italy, 1971)
  • ·      The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, USA, 1972)
  • ·      Mean Streets (Martin Scorsese, USA, 1973)
  • ·      The Godfather II (Francis Ford Coppola, USA, 1974)
  • ·      Animal House (John Landis, USA, 1978)
  • ·      Bye, Bye Monkey (Marco Ferreri, Italy, 1978)
  • ·      From Corleone to Brooklyn (Umberto Lenzi, Italy, 1979)
  • ·      Zappatore (Alfonso Brescia, Italy, 1980)
  • ·      La poliziotta a New York/A Policewoman in New York City (Michele Massimo Tarantini, Italy/France, 1981)
  • ·      Napoli Palermo New york il triangolo della camorra (Alfonso Brescia, Italy, 1981)
  • ·      Uno scugnizzo a New York (Mariano Laurenti, Italy, 1984)
  • ·      Moscow on the Hudson (Roger Spottiswoode, USA, 1984)
  • ·      Down By Law (Jim Jarmusch, USA, 1986)
  • ·      Belli Freschi (Enrio Oldoini, Italy, 1987)
  • ·      The Sicilian (Michael Cimino, Italy, 1987)
  • ·      A Brooklyn State of Mind (Frank Rainone, USA, 1988)
  • ·      The Godfather III (Francis Ford Coppola, 1990)
  • ·      Lorenzo’s Oil (George Miller, USA, 1992)
  • ·      Johnny Stecchino (Roberto Benigni, Italy, 1992)
  • ·      The Bridges of Madison County (Clint Eastwood, USA, 1995)
  • ·     Grumpier Old Men (Howard Deutch, USA, 1995)
  • ·      Love Is All There Is (Joseph Bologna and Renée Taylor, USA, 1996)
  • ·      Once We Were Strangers (Emanuele Crialese, Italy, 1997)
  • ·      Big Night (Campbell Scott and Stanley Tucci, USA, 1996)
  • ·      My Name is Tanino (Paolo Virzi’, Italy/Canada, 2002)
  • ·      The Whole Shebang (George Zaloom, USA, 2005)
  • ·      La vera leggenda di Tony Vilar/The True Legend of Tony Vilar (Giuseppe Gagliardi, Italy, 2006)
  • ·      Our Italian Husband (Ilaria Borrelli, USA, 2006)
  • ·      Delivering the Goods (Matthew Bonifacio, Italy, 2012)

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