Cinema: The Rottenest Clan in Nazidom

Cymbals crash. Kettledrums thunder. The screen fairly buckles under the image of a belching steel furnace. Then, from the midst of the apocalyptic flames, the title roars with a force that threatens the entire population of the first twelve rows of the orchestra. The Damned, it proclaims, shimmering with the intensity of white heat. A gratuitous parenthesis adds (Götterdammerung). It is too much. Like the rest of the film, it overpowers and finally overwhelms with its own unabashed sensationalism.

Italy's Luchino Visconti has little love for subtleties or half measures. In such films as The Leopard and Rocco and His Brothers, Visconti...