Down the Ancient Stairs

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A film that hardly deserves the outright dismissal it has generally received; it at least shows evidence of an intelligent awareness of the issues it broaches, and a loving attention to period detail (Italy in the '30s). Its biggest handicap is probably its central metaphor, ultimately too facile, which has the mental asylum in which most of the action takes place, dominated by an all-powerful and supposedly much-loved Professor, standing as a microcosm of the fascist state. But Françoise Fabian's rational and sensitive performance, as the young doctor come to investigate the professor's methods, is a major plus; and Mastroianni is totally credible as the self-deluding professor who finds the veiled tyranny he has practised within the walls reproducing itself frighteningly outside.

By: VG

Release details

Duration: 102 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Mauro Bolognini
Screenwriter: Raffaele Andreassi, Mario Arosio, Tullio Pinelli, Bernardino Zapponi, Sinko Solleville Marie
Cast: Marcello Mastroianni
Françoise Fabian
Marthe Keller
Barbara Bouchet
Pierre Blaise
Lucia Bosè