Riot police club left-wing demonstrators in a picturesque Rome piazza as two Americans flee. It is the height of the years of political violence in Italy, brought to life more than a decade later in a new film by director John Frankenheimer.

"Year of the Gun" stars Andrew McCarthy, Sharon Stone and Valerie Golino in a thriller about a journalist who becomes involved in a political maelstrom.Apart from the interiors, which were shot at Rome's Cinecitta studios, most scenes in the "Year of the Gun" were filmed in the piazzas and alleys of the Eternal City.

The new film is based on Michael Mewshaw's book of the same title.

Frankenheimer has brought other books to the screen, including Thomas Gladdis' "Birdman of Alcatraz," Fletcher Knebel's "Seven Days in May" and Richard Condon's "The Manchurian Candidate."

For Mewshaw, Rome is the principle character of the novel.

"The political background, the journalistic process and the interaction between the different characters and Rome form the action line," he said.