Marcello Clerici (Jean-Louis Trintignant) is a member of the secret police in Mussolini's Fascist Italy. He and his new bride, Giulia (Stefania Sandrelli), travel to Paris for their honeymoon, where Marcello also plans to assassinate his former college professor Luca Quadri (Enzo Tarascio), an outspoken anti-Fascist living in exile. But when Marcello meets the professor's young wife, Anna (Dominique Sanda), both his romantic and his political loyalties are tested.
Bernardo Bertolucci's expressionist masterpiece is the movie that plugs postwar Italian cinema firmly and directly into the emerging 1970s renaissance in Hollywood film-making, directly influencing the films of Coppola, Scorsese and others. This is, perhaps Bertolucci’s finest film, a tone poem of exquisite images, sound and music to convey the shadow side of Italy – within a sumptuous feast for the senses. Named the Best Film, Director, Cinematography and Actress by the Nat’l Society of Film Critics.