This film was released in the US in 1953 to capitalize on the spectacular
success of actress Silvana Mangano in the movies BITTER RICE and ANNA.
Although this is the middle film of the three, it was the one to be
last in the U.S. Unlike BITTER RICE and ANNA which appeared both in English
subtitled versions for art houses and dubbed versions for mass audiences,
LURE OF THE SILA was shown only in a badly dubbed version. It played big
theatres, neighborhood theatres, drive-ins. It was aggressively promoted by
its distributor I.F.E. Releasing Corporation. I remember seeing it as a
young boy at the neighborhood theatre with ad copy that read "Here comes a
sizzling country girl bent on revenge", and "Silvana seethes with more SEX
APPEAL than any other actress!" That might not have been an exaggeration.
In this movie Silvana, who was truly a lovely screen presence, avenges her
family's destruction. As a child she had been present when a brother was
unjustly accused of a murder and died in a struggle at the hands of the
police. As a grown woman she instigates a rivalrous competition for her
affections between a father and a son responsible for what had happened
years before. The movie is shot in the Sila forest plateau area of Calabria
in southern Italy. Even as a child what struck me most about the film,
besides Silvana Mangano, was the moodiness of the piece. Today at least, it
seems to us like a kind of "noir" rustic melodrama. I remember one scene
with Alsation dogs howling eerily in the background that I found very
effective. The great Aldo Tonti did the photography in stark hues. The
is by Enzo Masetti. The Calabrian songs "Festa al sole"and "La luna e'
janca" by Osvaldo Minervini, give nice regional color to the film. Amedeo
Nazzari plays the father Rocco very well, Jacques Sernas is not especially
commanding as his son Salvatore, and Vittorio Gassman has only a bit part
the prolog as the wronged brother. Dino De Laurentiis, who was married to
Silvana Mangano, produced. Duilio Coletti, whom I like best for his 1948
CUORE, directed with a darkly morbid style, truly effective when you
consider the subject matter. Ruggero Leoncavallo, composer of I PAGLIACCI,
also set in Calabria, could have made an opera of this story as well. It
that kind of operatic palette.
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