Uncovering Italy’s Superlatives in people, places and things

Step into Rome’s Tiny Hollywood

Move over, Cinecittà

Hiding on Via Monserrato, a side street just behind Piazza Farnese and Campo de’ Fiori lined with artisan boutiques is Hollywood, and we’re not talking casting couches and stand up sets. Hollywood is Marco Castrichella’s wunderkammer for the cinephile.

25 square meters congested with posters, DVDs, VHS and film stills, Hollywood was the very first boutique in all of Italy to focus entirely on auteur cinema. The celluloid time capsule is decorated exactly as it should be, iconic movie posters like Blow Up, Taxi Driver, La Marseillaise, Bocaccio 70 and Lord Jim and random film festival paraphernalia cover the walls, shelves crowded with box sets and racks of movie posters- current and vintage crowd the floor. It’s obvious, this is the destination for students of cinema, directors, actors, producers and film buffs.

“I don’t carry the big films,
I don’t want to offend anyone but that hasn’t been my choice.”

Castrichella, a film buff of his own right, opened the auteur film boutique in 1983 after more than a decade of selling Super 8 cameras and posters in Piazza Navona and around Rome.  “At the time, nobody sold them [the posters]. The studios, the cinema services would print them out for theatres and street posters, and then would throw them out. I would collect them”, Castrichella explains. 

VHS tape: An original Blade Runner VHS, circa 1983. Photo by Erica Firpo.

Hartley, Truffaut, Malick, oh my!

Castrichella stocked more than movie posters, he sought out the grandi classici, films by auteurs like John Ford, Ingmar Bergman and PierPaolo Pasolini. “It was a particular choice-  cinema d’autore. The VHS market at the time was strange- porn and red light. And it seemed strange that you had to search for these films that really were the story of Cinema”, Castrichella tells. Once DVDs arrived, Castrichella fell in love with the interactive functions that gave viewers more information, more language and more enjoyment, and jumped right into to DVD rentals and sales, building up a huge collection of the most sought after auteur films.

“La conoscenza è importante. (Knowledge is important.)”

Fall in love with film

Today, Hollywood’s collection is almost mind-blowing to quantify.  Castrichella has an enormous archive of classic auteur films by the world’s greatest directors, as well as a few of the more obscure.  There are some 2000 DVD titles circulating for rent, with a total of 4000 titles in both DVD and VHS format.  Yes, Castrichella still has the original VHS tapes, some of which are collector’s items like the 1983 original, numbered release Blade Runner, for those who still love the medium. 

Marco collects everything a cinephile desires, including old VHS tapes. Photo by Erica Firpo

For the collector, Hollywood has more than 6000 titles for sale, which you can find by researching Castrichella’s meticulous lists categorised genre, year, director and provenance in more than 50 binders created by Castrichella himself. And hundreds upon hundreds of print – vintage and current movie one sheets, head shots, studio portraits and film stills. Racks of one sheets take up floor space, and old news paper notices and photographic stills are neatly organised in stacks.

Over the years, his customers have become friends, like Federico Fellini, Frances Ford Coppola and Paolo Sorrentino.  Don’t be surprised if you find yourself elbow to elbow with walk ins like Martin Scorsese, Robert DeNiro, John Yogt, Abel Ferrara and Casey Affleck, or the neighborhood macellaio, shop owner or local journalist.

In a world of the immediate gratification of streaming and the disappointment of cinema closings, Hollywood is the time capsule we need.

Even if it’s unfair to ask a cinephile to name his five of his favourite films, we asked Marco for a top five must-watch:

Roma Città Aperta (Roberto Rossellini, 1945)
Rossellini’s neorealist drama centres on occupied Rome, circa 1944.

Roma (Federico Fellini, 1972)
an homage to the Eternal City, semi-autobiographical comedy-drama film tells Fellini’s story of his move from his hometown Rimini to Rome.

La Dolce Vita (Federico Fellini, 1960)
A comedy-drama following a week in the “sweet life” of a burgeoning paparazzi journalist – immortalised by Marcello Mastroianni.

Accattone (PierPaolo Pasolini, 1961)
a story pimps, prostitutes and thieves in 1950s Rome

C’eravamo Tanto Amati (Ettore Scola, 1974)
Friendship, love and post-war struggles, a comedy-drama chronicles the lives of three resistance fighters over thirty years.

Plus Marco’s top five Hollywood films of all times:

The Kid (Charlie Chaplin, 1921)

The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1951)

The Searchers (John Ford, 1956)

Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)

The Wild Bunch (Sam Peckinpah, 1969)

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