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Conversation Piece (1974) | Burt Lancaster steals the show in the lavish Rome-set drama

Conversation Piece (1974)

Luchino Visconti's lavish 1974 drama Conversation Piece starring Burt Lancaster gets a dual-format release following a stunning 2k restoration.

Directed with operatic flare by Luchino Visconti (following his recovery from a stroke), 1974’s Conversation Piece is dominated by a finely controlled turn by Burt Lancaster as a retired American professor who has filled his apartment in Rome with 18th-century paintings of family groups known as ‘conversation pieces’.

But when the brash Countess Brumonti (Silvana Mangano) lures the professor into accepting her family and young German lover (Helmut Berger) as tenants, he finds his ordered life and self-composure increasingly disrupted by their presence…

Conversation Piece (1974)

Set inside the confines of a grand old palazzo, Visconti’s penultimate film (which was shot in English) is a sleek, sly critique of the decadent European jet set that gets better with age. You’ll be hard-pressed to have little empathy for the self-absorbed Brumonti brood or Berger’s arrogant Casanova, but Lancaster’s professor is real softie who will humble your heart. And the way he deals with his life being turned upside down is a wonderful lesson in humility. This is a quiet achiever from a master director in his final years.

Conversation Piece gets a dual-format release following a brand new 2k restoration from Eureka! Entertainment as part of their Masters of Cinema Series (opens in new tab). Extras include the Italian dub soundtrack, optional subtitles, an interview with screenwriter Alessandro Bencivenni, trailer and a collector's booklet.