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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
(Some spoilers) Augusto Genina's THREE FORBIDDEN STORIES was based on the
same real-life incident portrayed in Giuseppe De Santis's ROME 11 O'CLOCK,
made around the same time. Two hundred female applicants appeared at an
old office building in Rome to be interviewed for one position as secretary.
All of a sudden, the staircase on which they were lined up collapsed,
sending many of the girls to their death and others to the hospital because
of serious injuries. This movie examines the lives of three of the girls.
Renata (Lia Amanda) recalls being raped by the friend of her father when she was just a schoolgirl, and the antipathy toward all men that resulted afterwards. She cannot establish any kind of personal relationship in later years and even flees the man she loves. The second girl is Anna Maria (Antonella Lualdi) a poor typist who marries a wealthy but nutty practical joker, whose only interest is ham radio, and who refuses to let his spouse go anywhere and keeps her practically imprisoned. This dingleberry of a husband, with all his bizarre quirks, is effectively portrayed by Enrico Luzi. The final story (actually all the stories are interwoven, rather than sequential) is the most dramatic and shows us the travails of Giulia (Eleonora Rossi-Drago), daughter of a prominent professor (Gino Cervi). She is a drug addict, and her attempts to reform end in tragedy. Hers is the only death among the three girls whose stories we are given.
While never less than engaging, the movie never really soars to any great heights, and the tone set by the director suggests a banal kind of throw-away journalism rather than polished drama. The film was widely shown in the United States in art cinemas in a subtitled version as well as in exploitation houses and drive-ins with English-dubbed dialog. It's hard to understand why this film received a "condemned" rating by the Catholic Legion of Decency at the time, unless it was triggered by the very understated, but very clear, portrayal of the rape of a teenage girl.
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