Luchino Visconti's Rocco and his Brothers is one of the most operatic melodrama’s of all time, involving a modern Italian family and their personal experiences when moving to the city of Milan one cold winter. The story begins with Rosaria Parondi deciding to pick up and move to the city of Milan along with four of her sons: Simone, Rocco, Ciro, and Luca; while Vincenzo, the eldest of the brothers has already established himself there. Unfortunately their timing couldn't be worse, as they arrive on the night of Vincenzo’s engagement party with the beautiful Ginetta (Claudia Cardinale), whose home he has made welcome. The two families take an instant dislike to each other, and the night ends up horribly as the Parondi family stalk out, and Vincenzo’s engagement is temporary broken. The story is divided into chapters focused loosely on each brother, as the movie chronicles the Parondi's struggle to get by in Milan, while the brothers take odd jobs and the family endures life in a cramped tenement.
Much of Rocco and his Brother's second half focuses largely with the two brothers Simone and Rocco, as the oafish Simone eventually finds success as a boxer, and the family soon moves to a better neighborhood. Simone falls in love with Nadia first; however, Rocco eventually becomes the object of her affection. Simone's jealousy and obsession with Nadia and his rapidly deteriorating behavior ultimately threaten to bring the family to ruin, while the saintly Rocco tries to save his brother. Rocco and His Brothers can be seen quite clearly as an enormous influence on great American gangster films, as themes of Frances Ford Coppola's The Godfather immediately come into mind, and the tense relationship between the good brother Rocco and the corrupt brother Simone largely influenced Scorsese in his development of such character's in Mean Streets, and obviously Raging Bull. The tragic character of Nadia makes for one of the most fascinating and tragic female characters in the history of film, as she clearly chooses to be degraded and abused by Simone, as it is her only way of expressing her deep love and anguish for Rocco and of his recent rejection of her.