This is one of the innumerable versions, from the silent and sound eras of various nations, of the Russian novel by Tolstoy and, I believe, the first Italian one and it was very popular upon its release in wartime Italy. A 2001 version by Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, made for Italian television, has gotten some acclaim and is much more elaborate production. This practically unknown version was directed by Flavio Calzavara, and pretty well at that.
Made during the Italian fascist era, this film stars favorite-fascist-diva Doris Duranti as Caterina (Katyusha) Maslova. As a young girl she had been seduced by Prince Dmitri Neklindoff (Claudio Gora). Later she became a prostitute and killed a rather brutal man she was involved with by poisoning him. Dmitri, serving on the jury, recognizes her and feels that he is morally culpable for her travails. After she is found guilty and sent to Siberia, he follows her in a desire to atone for his sins and expiate his guilt. So very Russian! At first he is repulsed by the girl, who marries another prisoner. Later she is convinced of his sincerity and accepts his friendship.
Doris Duranti does a fine job as Caterina/Katyusha; Claudio Gora is a acceptable Dmitri, and the settings used to suggest 19th Century Russia and the wilds of Siberia are reasonably convincing as photographed by lensman Gabor Pogany, who also gives us some nice Garbo-esque close-ups of Duranti. There is also a good scene of Caterina running desperately in the rain.
The rare film never seems to have been released in the United States, but I was able to view it in a French dubbed 16mm print found in Québec.
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