It Pays to Stay Awake

Here's another vote for insomnia. It's 2 a.m. as I write this -- as you can probably see by the time it will be posted -- and I was fiddling with the TV a little while ago. Not that I was going to look at the films I'm on deadline to review -- heavens, no. But I was running the dial and stopped at the International Movies on Demand channel (up here in Northern Manhattan, TimeWarner Digital assigns that one to Channel 500), and what should be among the offerings but Roberto Rossellini's 1960 drama "Era Notte a Roma." Now that is what I would call an obscure Rossellini. I mean, the film stars Leo Genn and Sergei Bondarchuk, for crissake.

So why is TimeWarner giving us splendid gift? It's a black-and-white film almost 50 years old, with a cast whose names will mean nothing to anyone but a serious film student. It can't be a belated recognition of the Rossellini centenary (off by two years, folks), or an overdue observance of his 30th yahrzeit (which fell last summer, and I don't think his family observes a yahrzeit, but I must remember to ask Isabella if I ever chance to interview her).

Whatever the reason, I'm delighted and if you are fortunate enough to live somewhere that gets this International Movies on Demand service, you should spend the measly $4.99 and see the film. God only knows when you'll get another chance.

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