Released in 1974, 11 years after The Leopard, Conversation Piece saw Italian director Luchino Visconti team up with Burt Lancaster yet again. The film has now been added to Eureka’s Masters of Cinema series.
The film’s plot revolves around a retired American professor (Lancaster) whose life changes from one that is solitary to one filled with chaos. After he rents part of his luxurious house in Rome to a countess, her young lover, her daughter and daughter’s boyfriend, he finds himself pulled into the family’s destructive ways and eventually placed in an undesirable position.
As well as Burt Lancaster, Conversation Piece stars Helmut Berger, Silvana Mangano, Stefano Patrizi, Claudia Cardinale and Dominique Sandra.
Luchino Visconti was born into a noble family in Milan in 1906. Through common friendship with Coco Chanel, he began his career as an assistant director under the French auteur Jean Renoir. Throughout his career, Visconti directed various movies, dramas and operas, with his final work being The Innocent in 1976. Along with The Leopard, his most celebrated works include Senso (1954), Rocco and His Brothers (1960) and Death in Venice (1971).
Visconti survived a stroke in 1972 though continued to smoke heavily. Four years later he suffered from another, which killed him.