I know this film is considered a great one, but I'm still processing it. It's the kind of film Ed from Northern Exposure would idealize. It feels like cinema, but I can't put my finger on what it is about it that stays with you.
One thing I know for sure is Giulietta Masina's eyes are haunting. They're full of innocence, wonder, and eventually hurt. The film would be nothing without these eyes. Gelsomina's character is played out almost entirely through the eyes, but when she does speak, the eyes sell it even more.
Another pair of haunting eyes comes from M (1931). It's the story of a town afraid of a pedophile murderer. Fairly early on we're introduced to the murderer while a voice-over conversation talks about who he could be:
If that's not enough to freak you out, just wait. The rest of the film shows as both cops and criminals are trying to track him down. Some great chase sequences ensue, but again, it's all in the eyes.
Peter Lorre owns this movie through his eyes. They express guilt, fear, and ultimately pleading. I've never seen eyes go this wide (until I saw La Strada). This is the one thing that will stick with me from this film. He's one of the creepiest killers ever in a film, and we don't even see him do anything brutal.
It's all in the eyes.