A native of Northern Italy, Valerio Zurlini had a taste for romanticism. In love with painting, literature and music, he was driven by a search for human and social truth, with a particular feel for febrile and nostalgic love. In La Prima notte di quiete (The Professor), he portrayed the brief passion between a teacher and his student, drawing on the sombre tones and misty backdrop of the little seaside resort of Rimini in winter. Throughout the film, Alain Delon (Daniele Dominici), dressed in his eternal beige raincoat, has the pallor of a tormented teacher under pressure. The dark side of this apparently indifferent man dominates the character, who seems startled by his passion.
The young woman (Sonia Petrovna, who plays Vanina Abati), both luminous and mysterious, comes with a dubious reputation. Neither of these two characters is free – the man in an unhappy marriage and the disillusioned student living with a rich playboy. The entire film revolves around the impossibility of coming together and starting anew.