Italian director Vittorio Taviani has died at age 88. He and his younger brother Paolo co-directed over 20 noteworthy Italian films. The Tavianis, who began churning them out in the ’50s, were probably the most celebrated directing brothers of the Italian cinema realm.

The last Taviani film I saw was Ceasar Must Die, about some prisoners putting on a performance of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. My favorite Taviani flick was Good Morning, Babylon (’87), about two Italian immigrant brothers (Vincent Spano, Joaquim de Almeida) who get hired as set designers for D.W. Griffith‘s Intolerance. It always seemed that their most popular film was Night of the Shooting Stars (’82).

For what it’s worth, the very first film I reviewed for any Manhattan publication was Vittorio and Paolo’s Padre Padrone. I seem to recall reviewing it sometime in early ’78 (i.e., when it opened commercially) for the Chelsea Clinton News. I was a mediocre writer back then. My prose was on the turgid, overworked side. I knew it and so did my editors. It was agony when I would try to write anything. It would take hours to write a single decent paragraph. It was like digging ditches.