Banned in Memphis: Stromboli

08/23/2017, 7:00 PM to 8:50 PM

$9/$5 Brooks members and students with valid id/Free with VIP Film Pass. map


Lloyd Binford hated all adulterers, but he reserved particular revulsion for actress Ingrid Bergman after she left her doctor husband, Petter Lindstrom, for film director Roberto Rossellini. The love affair between the actress who’d portrayed both a nun and a virgin saint (in 1945’s The Bells of St Mary’s and 1948’s Joan of Arc, respectively) and the Italian neorealist director caused an enormous scandal which resulted in the denouncement of Bergman on the floor of the US Senate. In Feburary 1950, the same month that Stromboli was released, Bergman gave birth to Rossellini’s son. And soon after, according to Michael Finger’s 2008 “Banned in Memphis” cover story for the Memphis Flyer, Binford refused to permit “the public exhibition of a motion picture starring a woman who is universally known to be living in open and notorious adultery.” The critic, legend has it, deemed Stromboli “sadistic, unmoral and immoral.”

Fittingly, then, the first collaboration between Rossellini and Bergman is a devastating portrait of a woman’s existential crisis. Set against the beautiful and forbidding backdrop of a volcanic island, Stromboli features Bergman in the lead role as Karin, a post-WWII Lithuanian refugee who marries a simple fisherman she met in a prisoner of war camp. Cut off from the outside world in his isolated village on an island off the Sicilian coast, Karin finds herself crumbling emotionally even as she is destined for a dramatic epiphany. Balancing the director’s trademark neorealism—exemplified here in a remarkable depiction of the fishermen’s lives and work—with deeply felt melodrama, Stromboli is a revelation. Today, it is recognized as one of the greatest films of all time.

Author and columnist Richard Alley will introduce Stromboli and lead a short discussion after the screening.

Director: Roberto Rossellini | Italy | 1950 | 107 minutes

$9/$5 Brooks members and students with valid id/Free with VIP Film Pass.


Tickets are available online until 2:30 pm the day of the screening or 2:30 pm on Friday for weekend matinees. Tickets are also available at Visitor Services, or by calling 901.544.6208 during regular business hours. Unsold tickets are also available in the rotunda immediately preceding a screening.

Banned in Memphis is an ongoing series of film screenings highlighting work banned from Memphis theaters by Lloyd Binford, the head of the Memphis Censor Board for 28 years. Regarded as “the toughest critic in America,” the former railway clerk turned insurance executive was notorious for his views on white supremacy, womanhood, and outsider views of the American South. Binford banned films with African American stars or unsegregated scenes, films that featured violence or teenage rebellion, and even film that he disliked because of the personal conduct of the actors rather than the content of the script.